Crafty Ken Doherty into Riga Quarter-Finals

Ken Doherty continued his resurgence this season as he moved into the quarter-finals of the Riga Masters on Saturday.

Ken Doherty Jimmy White (ML)The Irishman had to rely on receiving an invitational tour card after dropping off the Main Tour at the end of the last campaign.

Doherty won only a handful of matches during a dreadful 2016/17 season and there were few signs that he would have a revival in him.

However, the 47 year-old has superbly won his opening five clashes of this new term, making the most of his lifeline to successfully roll back the years.

Two-frame victories over Robin Hull and Zhang Anda, including a marvellous 126 against the former, have sent Doherty into the quarter-finals of a ranking event for the first time since 2013.

The Dubliner is now only three wins away from a first title of this status in eleven years.

It looked possible that he was going to face fellow invitational tour card holder Jimmy White in the last eight, but the Whirlwind’s similarly impressive run came to an end with a 4-1 defeat to Anthony McGill.

Somewhat oddly, Doherty and McGill have never met on the circuit so there’s nothing to go on from any previous visits.

McGill, who earlier on Saturday also narrowly edged passed Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, will naturally big as the favourite as the second highest ranked player left in the draw.

The only top 16 competitor remaining is Mark Williams, who recorded triumphs over Luca Brecel and Robbie Williams on the second day of action at the Arena Riga.

Williams hasn’t won a ranking event since the 2011 German Masters, suffering numerous near misses in the lengthy period since.

Against Joyce, the 42 year-old faces an opponent he has never lost to.

The Englishman boasted a brace of 4-2 wins over Nigel Bond and Sam Baird to reach the last eight of a ranking event for only the fourth time in his career.

Meanwhile, the other two quarter-final ties feature one proven ranking event winner and one who has previous failures in finals.

Scotland’s Stephen Maguire battled from behind to pip Oliver Lines in a decider before whitewashing Jack Lisowski with breaks of 139, 93, and 83.

The five-time ranking event winner will battle with Andrew Higginson after the latter fought brilliantly from 3-0 down to stun Mark Davis in the last 16.

Maguire unsurprisingly possesses the superior head-to-head record and since April has begun to look more like his old self after a couple of years in the doldrums.

Finally, Ryan Day continues his search for an overdue maiden ranking event trophy as he takes on former Players Championship champion Joe Perry on Sunday.

Considering there are so many higher ranked players not in eastern Europe this week, and that it was an open draw, Day could feel aggrieved at having arguably the hardest route of anybody so far.

The Welshman has met second seed Barry Hawkins, Robert Milkins, and Kyren Wilson – two of them dispatched in nail-biting deciders.

In the third round, Perry ended fellow Englishman Paul Davison’s progress, with Davison incredibly featuring in a maiden last 16 encounter after 19 seasons as a professional.

Day and Perry have only faced each other four times outside the Championship League, with the honours shared at two wins apiece.

Who will be emerging with the trophy come Sunday evening?

Coverage continues on Eurosport.

Click here to view the draw.

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