Doherty and O’Brien at the 2015 World Cup
Ken Doherty has found form which he thought was ‘lost forever’ after reaching the semi-finals at last weekend’s Kaspersky Riga Masters.
We caught up with him to discuss his game before he heads to Wuxi in China next week to form half of the Republic of Ireland World Cup team alongside Fergal O’Brien.
Ken, a great run from you in the first event of the season. Now you have your sights on the World Cup in Wuxi. How much are you looking forward to representing the Republic of Ireland?
“To be honest I didn’t think I was going to be in the World Cup so it came as a surprise to me. I love playing alongside Fergal O’Brien. He’s a good lad and is a practice partner of mine. We always have a good laugh and playing the doubles will be fun. I think we have a chance to do well, there is a real camaraderie between us and playing for your country is always something special. Having said that, no matter how close you are to your playing partner, there is still an added pressure playing in a team event. You always want to make sure you don’t let them down. It’s an experience I have always loved. You share the whole match with your partner.
“Last time out at the 2015 World Cup things didn’t quite work out for us. Our cues and cases didn’t arrive so I hope we can fare better this time around! We had one cue to share between us that we borrowed from one of the Iranian players. We were swapping it between us in the doubles. We’re going out a couple of days early this time so it shouldn’t be a problem now!”
You dropped off the tour at the end of last season, but after gaining an invitational tour card you have got 2016/17 off to a brilliant start by reaching the semi-finals of the Riga Masters. How pleased were you with your performance out in Latvia?
“It was a great buzz. It’s been so long since I was in that situation and I really enjoyed it. I was loving the challenge and playing some of the old stuff I used to play. I had thought that form was lost forever so it was nice to bring it back. It was like that montage they used to make with the song memories! In the end I was disappointed as I had my eye on getting to the final. I had a couple of chances at 4-3 up and 4-4 to win my semi-final with Stephen Maguire. I have to say in the end I was absolutely gutted. It would have been wonderful to get to play in another final. But I have to take the positives and look at the fact I got myself in the position to win.”
Is there anything in particular that you think has allowed you to get your game together over the summer?
“I’m conscious of practising more often, as I just wasn’t doing enough when I lost my tour card. I put in the effort over the summer and the first signs are that it is making a difference. It’s only the first event so I’m not getting carried away, but it is about baby steps and I have taken the first ones on a long road in front of me. I’ve not really set myself any targets or objectives, I’m just really determined to give a good account of myself. I’ve already made a couple of small technical changes and I am going to try to work hard on my game to make it as good as it can be. It’s my own fault I dropped off the tour in the first place. Now I’m going to try and make the most of this opportunity.”
Having been handed the two-year invitational tour card are there any particular objectives you wish to achieve over the next couple of seasons?
“I’ve been given a lifeline for the next two years. However, I don’t want these two years to fritter away. I won’t just be going through the motions, I’m going to work harder and if nothing happens I can retire gracefully. The aim is to justify this tour card that I have been given. You are never sure about the future, but I’d probably say that this is my swansong, so I want to put everything I have into the next two years.”