Sport

Sunday 18 February 2018

Former world champion Ken Doherty books his 19th appearance at the Crucible

Ken Doherty
Ken Doherty

The 1997 world champion Ken Doherty has secured the 19th Crucible appearance of his career with a 10-5 success over crowd-pleasing Thai Dechawat Poomjaeng.

The 44-year-old Dubliner missed out 12 months ago, losing a last-frame decider in the final qualifying round.

And while Doherty has carved a niche as a broadcaster at the tournament, he wants to remain active at the top of the game as a player.

"When you've had success at the Crucible you know what it means," Doherty said.

"You want to be part of the tournament and not sitting on the couch talking about it. That's all right when you're not in the tournament.

"Getting through means so much. I'm over the moon."

Meanwhile, newcomer Kyren Wilson set his sights on a clash with Ronnie O'Sullivan in the first round of the Dafabet World Championship after denying former Crucible king Graeme Dott a place at this year's tournament.

Wilson admitted even relatives doubted whether he could earn a World Championship debut by toppling the Scot, who landed world title glory in 2006.

But the 22-year-old pulled off a 10-7 win at Sheffield's Ponds Forge venue, a five-minute stroll from the championship venue.

"A lot of people wrote me off against Graeme, even family," Kettering cueman Wilson, a lowly 89th in the world rankings, said.

"I just wanted to enjoy it because he's such a class player. I'm glad I held my nerve.

"I can't wait, it's a dream come true.

"I'm going to have a drive past the Crucible now and have a look at it. I've been there to watch my friend Peter Ebdon in the past but it's going to be a bit different playing there."

Asked who he would want to be pitched against in Thursday's draw for a tournament that starts on Saturday morning, Wilson had no doubt he fancies two-time defending champion O'Sullivan, who will be chasing a sixth world title.

That would mean a Saturday morning start.

"I want Ronnie. I'm young, it's my first time, he brings in the crowd and everyone wants to watch him on TV," Wilson said.

"I want to play him before he retires and you never know when he's going to retire. He could absolutely batter me but at least I'll enjoy watching him."

Dott complimented his conqueror, saying of Wilson: "If he plays to that standard he can beat anybody. I don't feel I played that badly. I'm sure when the tournament starts on Saturday I will be devastated."

Nottingham's Michael Holt made it through to the Crucible stages for a seventh time, Welshman Dominic Dale earned a ninth appearance, and Tamworth's David Gilbert will play his third World Championship.

Former semi-finalist Alan McManus claimed a fine 10-8 victory over two-time champion Mark Williams.

The 43-year-old Scot said after his win against the Welsh left-hander: "I actually went to the Crucible yesterday and sat in the arena for five minutes. As a more senior player you do take it in more because every year is a bonus.

"I would actually like to draw one of the two Scots in the top 16, John Higgins or Stephen Maguire. For me that would be a special match and occasion, they are both friends and it would be something for Scotland to enjoy."

Leicester's Tom Ford beat two-time runner-up Matthew Stevens 10-8 while Stoke's Jamie Cope, who has struggled in recent seasons with a tremor in his cue arm, claimed a welcome 10-7 win against Mark King.

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