Ken Cruises Through in Welsh Qualifiers

Ken Doherty advanced to the final round of qualifying for the Welsh Open after a comprehensive 4-0 drubbing of Rod Lawler in Sheffield.

The Irishman dropped outside the top 32 in the world rankings at the last cut-off point and he’ll be desperate to regain his place before the final revision is made ahead of the World Championship in April.

The difference between being 32nd and 33rd in the standings is the frustration of an extra qualifying round – a requirement that Doherty is testifying to this week.

However, the 1997 champion at The Crucible wasted precious little time in seeing of Lawler and will be aware that if he can beat Jamie Cope tomorrow for outright qualification, his goal of the top 32 should be realised barring a very specific sequence of unlikely results.

Cope will provide tough opposition for the Dubliner but is a player that is riddled with inconsistency and the short best of seven format may favour the more experienced of the pair.

In a similar rankings tussle but this time for those scrambling for the positions immediately inside the top 48 on the list, Jimmy White has survived by the skin of his teeth through no success of his own.

Indeed, the ‘Whirlwind’ lost 4-2 to Ian McCulloch but will be thanking Mike Dunn for a dramatic 4-3 victory over Xiao Guodong – if the latter had won instead it would have been the Chinese youngster instead of the almost 50 year-old in the prized position.

There are still a couple of scenarios that could see six-time World Championship runner-up White squeezed out of the 48 – a couple more wins for Mark Joyce and Dave Harold, in particular, who both enjoyed contrasting triumphs of their own today – but the Londoner will be breathing slightly easier tonight.

All in all, it wasn’t a great day for the Chinese contingent with Cao Yupeng and Liu Chuang losing out to Jamie Burnett and Matthew Selt respectively, though World Cup winner Liang Wenbo did enjoy a 4-1 success over David Gilbert.

Elsewhere, veteran Steve Davis withstood a strong challenge from Indian Lucky Vatnani to eventually prevail 4-3, scorelines that were equally good enough for Michael Holt and Sam Baird.

Kurt Maflin set up an intriguing contest with Stephen Hendry after a 4-0 whitewash of Robert Milkins while Andy Hicks, Adam Wicheard, Gerard Greene and Adam Duffy also progressed further in the competition – Duffy beating an out-of-form Lisoswki 4-2.

Tomorrow, 16 hopefuls will qualify for the main event that starts next Monday in Newport.

The full draw and list of results can be viewed by clicking here.



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