Ken Doherty Squeezes Through in India

Ken Doherty continued his resurgence in form as he edged John Astley 4-3 in the first round of the Indian Open on Tuesday.
The Irishman won three out of the last four frames with runs of 62 and 50 to move into the last 32 in Visakhapatnam.

Doherty dropped off the main tour at the end of last season before being offered a lifeline with an invitational card back onto the circuit.

The 1997 world champion has taken full advantage, producing some of his best snooker in years to qualify for every ranking event so far this campaign while he also reached the semi-finals of the Riga Masters at the outset of the summer.

Doherty is accumulating so many ranking points from the money he has earned that it is already surpassing the total season tallies he recorded in each of the last few campaigns, and he will be harbouring hopes of an unlikely return to the top 64 in the world rankings if his run of positive results continues.

The 47 year-old will be keen then to take advantage of a depleted field in India for the fourth ranking event this term, with a big opportunity for any player to emerge from the pack as a contender this week.

That said, the majority of the marquee names who did enter managed to advance to the second round following the first day’s play.

Defending champion Anthony McGill wasted little time as he romped to a 4-0 rout of home favourite Aditya Mehta.

McGill, whose last 128 encounter from Preston was held over to the venue stages, knocked in breaks of 94, 76, and 65 as he thoroughly dismantled the 2013 runner-up.

It was much tougher for Shaun Murphy and Ricky Walden, though, who progressed after tough opening tests.

Murphy beat one of the invited Indian wildcards 4-2 in one of the other held over qualifying round fixtures while Walden, another ex-finalist, fought back from 3-1 down to deny Alfie Burden in a decider and move into the last 32.

Joe Perry beat Daniel Wells 4-1 while Scotland’s Graeme Dott repeated the trick against Jack Lisowksi, initiated by a superb 71 clearance to steal the opening frame.

Dott’s countryman Alan McManus enjoyed a whitewash success while Mark Davis, Matthew Selt, and Li Hang also recorded early victories.

Yet, there were some upsets of note with Hossein Vafeai Ayouri dispatching of German Masters champion Anthony Hamilton 4-1 and Tian Pengfei staging a remarkable comeback from 3-0 down to pip Tom Ford 4-3.

Of Doherty’s fellow Irishmen, Fergal O’Brien was similarly taken the distance before overcoming Jimmy Robertson 4-3 but young Josh Boileau’s struggles persist after a 4-3 reverse against Sean O’Sullivan.

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