Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Defiant Doherty downs Maguires

Ken Doherty turned the form guide on its head today with an excellent 5-2 win against Stephen Maguire at the Australian Open - proving he's still a long way from hanging up his cue

The  two players' form at last week's Thailand World Cup coming into this Bendigo clash could hardly have been more contrasting.

Doherty put in a string of uninspiring displays as Republic Ireland laboured through the group stages and then lost convincingly to China in the quarter-finals. Maguire on the other hand looked at the height of his form for Scotland, outperforming his partner John Higgins throughout.

On this basis, Maguire should have won hands down but the 1997 world champion had other ideas, as he dominated the Scot.

The win was a surprise and could hardly have come at a better time for Doherty. Currently ranked number 28 in the world, Ken needs results to retain his place in the top 32 for the next cut-off point. The 17-32 section of the rankings is as competitive as any right now. Everyone in there has been winning matches, and the Dubliner was being left behind.

While his odds of winning this match may have been slim, Ken has always been a fighter and has a terrific record away from the UK. He's won tournaments in Thailand and Malta before and has a good attitude to travelling.

While some players seem put out by the global path the game is taking, Ken just seems to be getting on with it, even after 21 years as a professional. Determined to continue playing the game he loves, today's performance suggests Ken still has a few years left in the tank.

Great news for Doherty fans but those in the Maguire camp were left to watch as he again fell foul of his inconsistent streak. Just a few months ago, he was in the final at the Welsh Open, and there were cries he was back to his best. Last week he was back playing what I call tournament-winning snooker, but today, he looked off-the-boil.

It will be interesting to see how he bounces back in Shanghai.

Ken wasn't the only non-top 16 player celebrating a win today though.

Stuart Bingham continued his charge to the top 16 with an impressive 5-2 win against recent World Cup winner Ding Junhui.

This was sweet revenge for Ballrun, who lost to the China ace in the last 16 at the Crucible 13-12 after leading 12-9.

Matt Selt continued his Australian Open fairytale with another defeat of a former Scottish world champion. He beat Stephen Hendry 5-1 to make his first ever quarter-final.

Liang Wenbo was also involved. He beat Matthew Stevens 5-4 as he shows more signs that he's ready to put his nightmare last season behind him.

Joe Perry nearly joined in but saw his 3-0 lead overcome by Mark Selby, who beat him 5-3.

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