Ken Doherty

Ken Doherty Downs Mark Williams

Ken Doherty edged Mark Williams 6-4 in the last 64 of the China Open as the seeds continued to tumble on Tuesday in Beijing.

Williams was made to work in his heldover qualifying round encounter with Harvey Chandler on the opening day.

The world champion managed to escape with a narrow two-frame victory but he got a taste of his own medicine against a familiar foe in Doherty.

In a repeat of their epic 2003 World Championship title decider, Doherty rolled back the years to reach the last 32.

After a couple of seasons competing via the invitational tour card, the Irishman is looking all but assured of a return to the top 64 in the world rankings and with it a fresh pro ticket.

The 49 year-old appeared to suggest in a recent interview with the Daily Star that he would consider his options at the end of the campaign, with focusing on the World Seniors Tour another possible avenue for the 1997 world champion.

But it seems unlikely that he would follow that route yet, especially when he’s still able to mix it with the elite on his day.

Doherty won the UK Seniors Championship in October and is guaranteed to play at the Crucible this month when he takes part in the Seniors Masters.

A return to snooker’s theatre of dreams as a competitor in this edition of the World Championship will be the Dubliner’s primary objective for the remainder of this term, though.

Williams joined defending champion Mark Selby on the sidelines and there were plenty of more upsets as the China Open draw continues to be blown wide open.

Judd Trump almost fought back from the brink against Robbie Williams, who missed a match-ball black in the ninth frame to win 6-3, but the Masters champion eventually succumbed to a 6-5 loss anyway after a dramatic deciding frame that lasted more than one hour.

John Higgins had earlier been comprehensively beaten by rookie Joe O’Connor, the same player who ousted the Scot in the quarter-finals of the recent Welsh Open.

Barry Hawkins and Ryan Day also crashed out with unexpected reverses against Lu Ning and Sam Craigie respectively.

Day’s 6-1 drubbing means that the Welshman is definitely consigned to the dreaded qualifiers in Sheffield for the upcoming World Championship.

There was some joy for a couple of the marquee names in action as Kyren Wilson and Jack Lisowski emerged with strong triumphs over Yuan Sijun and John Astley.

Elsewhere, veteran Peter Ebdon, twice a winner of the China Open, surprised Yan Bingtao 6-2.

Yan’s countrymen Liang Wenbo and Lyu Haotian had more luck on home soil as they advanced to the second round.

Among the others to safely make it through to the next stage were Mark King, Andrew Higginson, Scott Donaldson, and Rod Lawler.

The play continues later on day two with the conclusion of the first round proper.

After a disappointing campaign by his standards, Ding Junhui played pretty well in his opening victory on Monday and will look to build on the momentum when he takes on James Wattana.

Selby’s conqueror Craig Steadman is back in action against Dominic Dale while Stephen Maguire meets Xu Si.

Live coverage is on Eurosport.

Click here to view the China Open draw (Times: CET)

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