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Ken Doherty close to sealing Crucible return after latest World Championship qualifying win

1997 World Champion Ken Doherty is one match away from a return to snooker’s Theatre of Dreams after defeating Gerard Greene 10-4 at Betfred World Championship Qualifying.

Doherty hasn’t appeared at the Crucible since 2014 and his run this week is in stark contrast to the scenes at qualifying for last year’s event. The Irishman dropped off the tour following a 10-4 loss to Ben Woollaston.

After being handed an invitational tourcard Doherty appeared in a semi-final at the 2017 Riga Masters and has fared well throughout the campaign, reaching the last 16 stage on a further two occasions.

Doherty came into this evening’s session with a slender 5-4 advantage. However, he forced himself over the line at the earliest possible opportunity by taking five consecutive frames.

The victory sees him renew an old rivalry with two-time World Championship finalist Matthew Stevens, who came through 10-9 in a final frame decider against Chinese teenager Yuan Sijun.

“There’s one more match to go so I’m not getting too excited. I’m just pleased to have played very well,” said the six-time ranking event winner. “Matthew and I have had some fantastic matches over the years. I’ve played him at the Crucible and he beat me in the final of the Masters. He is a class act, so it will be a tough match against him.

“I think it is very hard to put the Crucible out of your mind. You can feel the tension in the players lounge, you can feel the tension in the arena and these matches are like no other on tour. It is good and gets the juices and adrenaline going. It makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.”

Joe Perry ended Jimmy White’s ambitions of Crucible return with a 10-5 victory. Like Doherty, the Gentleman held a narrow 5-4 lead after the first session and mounted an instant charge to the finish this evening.  He compiled runs of 61, 62, 62 and 74 on his way to securing five out of six frames and sealing the win.

Perry faces Mark Davis in the next round, who has dropped just one frame this week. The former Six-Red World Champion defeated Sanderson Lam 10-1 in his opening round and whitewashed Shoot Out winner Michael Georgiou 10-0 this evening.

China’s Tian Pengfei claimed a shock victory against his compatriot and one of the brightest prospects in the sport Yan Bingtao. The former Ruhr Open finalist came through a deciding frame to win 10-9.

Graeme Dott booked his place at Judgement Day thanks to a 10-2 demolition of the popular Thai Sunny Akani. The 2006 World Champion will face Mike Dunn for a Crucible spot, after the 46-year-old thrashed Dominic Dale 10-3.

Alfie Burden secured a huge victory in his bid for tour survival. He came through a nerve jangling deciding frame to defeat David Gilbert 10-9 and will face either Adam Stefanow or Thepchaiya Un-Nooh for a place at the Crucible.

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