Snooker News

Doherty Through but O’Brien Loses

Only Ken Doherty remains in the hunt for a place in the World Championship draw from an Irish respective at the qualifiers in Ponds Forge.

Ken Doherty

Doherty last played at the Crucible in 2014 – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

The 1997 world champion held off a spirited fight back from talented Iranian Hossein Vafaei Ayouri to prevail 10-7 and go to within one victory of a return to the Crucible.

His fellow Dubliner Fergal O’Brien crashed out, though, suffering a 10-6 defeat to China’s Zhou Yuelong.

Doherty’s task is almost as hard as it gets as he must take on Welshman Ryan Day on Tuesday and Wednesday over the best of 19 frames.

Day looked as though he was on the verge of an early exit but won the last five frames to come from 9-5 down against Alfie Burden.

Monday was an extremely busy day in Sheffield in which 22 encounters were completed to conclude the second qualifying stage.

The most dramatic triumph of the day was saved until the very end, indeed well past midnight as former champion Peter Ebdon launched an incredible comeback from 9-3 down to beat Gerard Greene in a decider.

Greene, who himself came from behind to beat Jimmy White in a final frame shoot-out on Thursday, was feeling the weight of pressure on his shoulders as he knew that he needed to qualify in order to save his tour credentials.

The Northern Irishman is now resigned to the fact that he’ll drop off the tour while Ebdon once again proved his tenacious battling qualities.

That said, the 45 year-old will surely be mentally exhausted and must immediately pick himself up to face Ian Burns next.

Meanwhile, Ding Junhui made light work of Ross Muir, hammering the Scot 10-1 to set up a clash with Nigel Bond.

For the most part, the players who were expected to advance did so but there were a few notable exceptions.

German Masters runner-up Luca Brecel appeared in control of proceedings when he led Liam Highfield 8-5 but the Belgian barely had a look in thereafter, losing the following five frames for a 10-8 defeat.

Matthew Selt suffered a 10-9 loss to Mitchell Mann while Mark Davis was downed by Zhang Anda.

The Chinese are guaranteed at least two players in the draw for the last 32 as Zhang faces compatriot Zhou while Liang Wenbo and Xiao Guodong also face each other after victories over Jamie Cope and Jamie Clarke respectively.

Ding, of course, could join them if he dismantles Bond’s challenge.

Elsewhere, a pair of two-time runners-up reached the last hurdle as Matthew Stevens and Ali Carter both won.

Stevens takes on Kyren Wilson in an intriguing match-up while Carter prepares to battle with Dominic Dale.

Welshman Stevens has had a terrible season by his standards but would be a very dangerous qualifier in the draw should he make it.

Thai duo Dechawat Poomjaeng and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh also moved closer to featuring at the Crucible while Anthony McGill, a quarter-finalist 12 months ago, edged Craig Steadman 10-9.

Englishmen David Gilbert, Jack Lisowski, Mike Dunn, Mark King and Sam Baird rounded off the winners on the sixth day of action in the qualifiers.

Only two more days remain, with the opening session of the final round on Tuesday before the inevitable drama ensues on Wednesday as 16 hopefuls scramble to book their coveted spots in the World Championship.

Click here to view the draw.

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