Ken Doherty Wins Opening World Qualifier Match

The Irishman is fighting to maintain his place on the Main Tour after 30 years as a professional.

Ken Doherty withstood a spirited fight back to beat Fraser Patrick 6-4 in his opening world qualifier contest on Friday in Sheffield.

The Dubliner, entering the preliminary competition in the second round, needs two more victories to secure a Crucible berth for the first time since 2014.

Doherty is also scrambling for tour survival, with the 1997 world champion currently outside the top 64 in the provisional world rankings.

The 50 year-old needs to at least overcome Mark King in the penultimate hurdle at the English Institute of Sport to give himself a chance of safeguarding his pro status for another year.

Doherty was previously relegated from the circuit in 2017 but immediately returned after being given an invitational card, so that option could be awarded again, but the former world number two would obviously prefer to achieve safety on his own terms.

After establishing a 4-0 lead at the mid-session interval, Doherty almost threw the game away as Patrick fought back to trail by only one frame at 5-4.

A timely 57 helped the six-time ranking event winner over the line, though, and he can look forward to his next challenge against King on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the second stage of the frenetic world qualifier event reached its conclusion on what was another hectic day of action.

Martin Gould did his own tour survival hopes a power of good after outplaying Amine Amiri courtesy of a routine 6-0 drubbing, while Sam Baird kept himself in the hunt to seal a late place among the top 64 with a 6-4 success against headline-maker Ben Mertens.

Dominic Dale hasn’t played at the Crucible since reaching the quarter-finals six years ago, but the Welshman is one step closer after ousting Fan Zhengyi in another close affair.

A dramatic comeback saw Luo Honghao, infamously a 10-0 loser to Shaun Murphy on his Crucible debut a year ago, reverse a 5-1 deficit to see off Peter Lines in a nervy decider that concluded on the colours.

Indeed, it was a bad day in general for the Lines family, with Peter’s son Oliver Lines also bowing out following a 6-2 loss against Gerard Greene that will see the young Leeds potter head to Q School next month.

Elsewhere, Ian Preece became the third amateur to reach the third round after a hard-fought 6-5 victory over John Astley.

Several other players recorded more comfortable scorelines, with the likes of David Grace, Liam Highfield, Jordan Brown, and Jamie Clarke all losing just a single frame each.

Among the others to safely advance were Thailand’s Sunny Akani, Ian Burns, Mark Joyce, and Jak Jones.

The next round begins on Saturday with the professional players ranked from 17 to 48 in the world entering the fray.

That means several heavy-hitters will finally be in the mix, including Ali Carter, Joe Perry, Luca Brecel, and Graeme Dott.

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