Ken Doherty kept his hopes of tour survival alive with a 6-4 win over Fraser Patrick in Betfred World Championship qualifying at the English Institute of Sport.
Irishman Doherty had looked to be cruising to victory when he led 5-1, but three frames on the bounce from Scotland’s Patrick turned up the heat, making it 5-4. Doherty steeled himself and got over the line with a classy run of 57.
The 1997 Crucible king last appeared in the final stages of the World Championship in 2014, when he beat Stuart Bingham 10-5 in the opening round before bowing out against Alan McManus.
Doherty will now face Mark King to move within a match of a return to the Theatre of Dreams. It is likely he will still need to beat King to remain on the circuit.
Doherty said: “When he came back to me the pressure really told. I started twitching a few times, but I was delighted with the break I made in the last frame.That gave me a little bit of hope for the next match, that I can still produce it when I am bang under it. There is a lot of pressure out there. People don’t realise watching from home, when you are fighting to stay on the tour or just to stay in the World Championship it means an awful lot.
“It’s the one you want to play in. You want to play at the Crucible. That is the golden nugget for all these players, just to get to the Crucible. There are a lot of tough match-players here and a lot of nerves. Because it is the World Championship, it means a lot more.”
Martin Gould whitewashed Moroccan Amine Amiri 6-0 to clinch his place in the third round.
Victory for the 2016 German Masters winner acts as a huge step towards tour survival, having descended to 60th position in the world rankings. Next up, Gould faces Chris Wakelin for a Judgement Day place.
After today’s game, Gould stressed that despite his perilous position in the rankings, he isn’t taking too much interest in the permutations for the battle to remain on the World Snooker Tour.
Gould said: “I haven’t looked at the ranking list for about four years, maybe even longer than that. I don’t look at it and it doesn’t interest me. All I want is to go out and play snooker. If I can win matches then great, if not then so be it. I am just going to concentrate on every match as it comes.
“It has been more my choice than anything. I’ve chosen not to play in certain events. I’ve tried to cut down my travel. It isn’t a case of playing badly. Most of the time I have played in events, people have played phenomenally against me. It isn’t the case of me being in a bad rut or anything like what some of the commentators have been saying about me lately. I am at the point where my body can’t do it week in and week out, so I pick and choose.”
Sam Baird came from 4-2 down to beat 15-year-old Belgian Ben Mertens 6-4. It ends a memorable week for Mertens, who became the youngest winner of a match in World Championship history by beating James Cahill in the opening round.
Luo Honghao staged a dramatic fightback to avoid immediate relegation from the circuit, he bounced back from 5-1 down to beat Peter Lines 6-5.
Thailand’s Sunny Akani scored a 6-2 win over Lukas Kleckers, while Dominic Dale progressed with a 6-4 defeat of Fan Zhengyi.