Snooker: Doherty's Crucible qualification right on cue
Ken Doherty, who contemplated retirement 12 months ago, was smiling again last night after beating Belfast's Joe Swail 10-1 to qualify for the televised phase of the Betfred.com World Championship in Sheffield.
Doherty, the 1997 champion, started the current campaign 44th in the rankings and seriously pondering his future. He vowed to give it one more year and his new-found commitment has paid off with the 40-year-old now certain to return to the world's top 32. Doherty, who beat Jimmy White 10-3 in the previous qualifying round, will find out his first-round opponent at the Crucible Theatre on Thursday.
"I'm just delighted to qualify. I've had to drag myself back up and it's great to at the Crucible again," said Doherty.
"I was almost in tears last year when I failed to qualify. I didn't know where my game was going and whether or not it was the end for me but everything has turned around this season.
"I think it says a lot about my character because there was a moment where it looked like I might drop off the tour," he said.
Doherty, the beaten Crucible finalist in 1998 and 2003, compiled breaks of 74, 67, 74 and 81 as he raced to victory to secure a 17th appearance at the game's most iconic venue. The result relegates Swail from the top 32 which means he will have to play two qualifying matches in all of next season's ranking tournaments.
David Morris, a 20-year-old from Kilkenny, missed out on a debut appearance on television when he was beaten 10-6 by Englishman Michael Holt. Morris had recovered from a 6-3 first-session deficit to trail only 8-6 but lost the 15th frame on the black.