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Ken Doherty books place at World Championships

Ken Doherty
Doherty beat Stephen Hendry in the 1997 final

Former champion Ken Doherty thrashed Joe Swail 10-1 in the final qualifying round to book his place at next month's World Championships at the Crucible.

The Dubliner, 40, who failed to qualify last year, romped into an 8-1 first-session lead before wrapping up victory without fuss after the resumption.

"I was in tears almost last year when I lost," said the 1997 champion.

"I always thought it was a premature end, it couldn't be like that and I had a lot more to offer," he added.

Doherty is the only non-British player other than Cliff Thorburn to win the world title but lost in last year's qualifiers to end a 15-year run at the championships.

"I didn't know where my game was going and it was a real down time for me," said Doherty, who had slipped to 44 in the world rankings but now looks sure to get back among the top 32.

Doherty had the chance of a 147 break in the 10th frame against Northern Irishman Swail but a kick on the 11th red left him awkward on the black, which he overcut as the break ended on 81.

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A maximum would have been worth £5,000 in prize money, however Doherty, who had ousted the iconic Jimmy White in the second qualifying round, was more than happy with a place in Thursday's draw for the televised stages.

And a day after 52-year-old six-time champion Steve Davis earned his 30th appearance in the first round with a 10-4 win over Adrian Gunnell, Doherty paid tribute to both 'The Nugget' and 'The Whirlwind'.

"You look at Steve Davis and the way he played yesterday and he's five or six years older than Jimmy White and John Parrott. You could take a lot of leaves out of Steve Davis's book.

"I take a lot of inspiration from the likes of Steve and Jimmy. They're great characters, they've been great players and ambassadors and have a great determination and grit - and that was obvious the way Steve qualified and how Jimmy keeps coming back for more."

Parrott, 45, indicated he will quit the sport after his qualifying loss to Chinese teenager Anda Zhang. However, Doherty urged the 1991 world champion to have a rethink.

"John Parrott is a true champion and I hope he reconsiders retirement because I think he still has a lot to offer the game. Jimmy is the same as well. He says he's going to give it one more year but I think there's plenty of life," Doherty said.

Joining Doherty in the draw will be Tom Ford after the 26-year-old from Leicester swept past Judd Trump 10-3, finishing with a break of 100.

Ford, who becomes the first debutant to qualify for this year's tournament, revealed that reigning Masters champion Mark Selby, also from Leicester, has inspired his run this year.

"I see Mark on TV a lot of the time and it does wind me up because I know I should be trying to do the same thing. That's why I've knuckled down this year," Ford said.

"Mark is very dedicated, he doesn't drink that much, so we're not on the same wavelength there. I took the wrong path when I was 18, started going out too much, whereas he knuckled down himself and he's done what he's done because he had the dedication."

To get to the Crucible is like a footballer playing at Wembley

Michael Holt

Martin Gould, who made his Crucible debut in a 10-6 defeat by Mark Allen last year, will return to the famous Sheffield venue thanks to a 10-4 defeat of Nigel Bond.

Breaks of 114 and 129 helped him to a 6-3 lead, and he won four of the five frames in the evening session to clinch victory.

"My long potting was frightening, every ball was screaming in," reflected the 28-year-old Londoner. "I wasn't quite perfect but I played high level snooker."

Michael Holt fended off Irishman David Morris 10-6 to seal his place.

Trailing 8-6, Morris had chances to close to within just one frame in the 15th, however Holt won it on the last black and wrapped up victory in the next frame.

"To get to the Crucible is like a footballer playing at Wembley. It's the tournament you watch as a kid. In the past maybe I've not appreciated it enough, but I will now.

"If I draw John Higgins again it will feel like the final for him, because the last two times I've played him in the first round (2007 and 2009) he's gone on to win it."

World number 17 Barry Hawkins, the highest ranked player in the qualifiers, battled through 10-7 against Ian McCulloch.

Leading 6-3 after the first session, Hawkins, 30, added the four frames he needed to progress.

"I feel gone now, knackered. That was a match and a half," said Hawkins. "You want to get there so badly and you just want to get over the line.

"I've been at the Crucible four years in a row now but not won a match. The last three have been two 10-9s and a 10-8 so I'm getting closer. I just want to get through that first round, because after that anything can happen."

Tuesday's final day of qualifying sees 18-year-old Zhang take on Ricky Walden, Jamie Cope face Mark Joyce and Stephen Lee, currently bailed following an investigation into suspicious betting patterns, playing Mike Dunn.



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see also
World Championship qualifying results
09 Mar 10 |  Snooker
Davis victory earns Crucible spot
07 Mar 10 |  Snooker
Doherty ends White's Crucible bid
04 Mar 10 |  Snooker
Parrott looks set to quit snooker
04 Mar 10 |  Snooker
Snooker's bruising battleground
04 Mar 10 |  Snooker
Higgins earns third world crown
04 May 09 |  Snooker
Veteran Davis still a Crucible draw
17 Apr 09 |  Snooker
Snooker on the BBC
08 Apr 11 |  Snooker


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