Irishman Ken Doherty rolled back the years with a 5-3 victory over Mark Selby in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in Victoria.
The superb win marks the first time since the 2006 China Open that the former world champion has reached the Last 4 in a ranking event.
It will also aid the Dubliner’s bid to remain inside the Top 32 in the world rankings and should serve as some inspiration to make a concerted effort to rejoin the elite 16 by the end of the season.
Doherty led 3-1 at the interval but knew that his English opponent had already completed a considerable comeback earlier in the week against Joe Perry.
Selby reduced the arrears to 4-3 and appeared odds on to take the match into a tantalising deciding frame when he led by 57 points with only 59 remaining.
However, Doherty, oozing more confidence around the table following his own comeback victory over Liang Wenbo yesterday, constructed a gutsy 59 clearance to ensure his place among the weekend’s contenders.
Doherty’s run this week has come out of nowhere but should not come as a surprise.
The former world number two has been one of the best all-round players the sport has ever produced and it was inevitable that there would be a few more good weeks left in him.
Furthermore, the fact that he is able to play in front of his wife’s family – who are Australian – for the first time has given the 41 year-old added incentive to perform well.
Doherty’s task does not get any easier, though, as he will next play world number one Mark Williams for a coveted place in the final.
If Williams was not all that pleased with his performance in the opening two rounds then he should be more than content with his work on the baize today.
The Welshman had to work hard to dislodge another determined effort from Dominic Dale – eventually overcoming his countryman 5-4.
Yet, the triumph included three century breaks – 118, 140 and 142 in the decider – which sends out a message to the rest of the circuit that last season’s resurgence for Williams was not a flash in the pan.
In the Battle of Bendigo, Stuart Bingham beat rival Mark allen 5-3 and will now contest the first semi-final of his career.
Allen had previously goaded the Englishman, claiming that he lacked nerve on the big stage, but was made to eat his own words after Bingham knocked in two century breaks en route to a pleasing victory.
Northern Ireland’s Allen made no excuses after the encounter, admitting that the better man had won on the day but that he stood by his pre-match comments.
For Bingham, the precious win will have a crucial impact into his goal of earning a Top 16 place in the rankings for first time at the October cut-off point and, indeed, will provisionally not be too far behind Allen following today’s result.
In the first quarter-final, PTC Grand Finals champion Shaun Murphy ended qualifier Matthew Selt’s excellent run with yet another 5-3 victory.
The draw for the Australian Open can be viewed by clicking here.