KEN DOHERTY won his first match at the Crucible for eight years with a shock 10-5 defeat of Stuart Bingham in the first round of the Dafabet World Championship on Sunday.
Doherty trailed 3-0 and 5-3 but won the last seven frames as Bingham struggled to produce the form that has got him to sixth in the world rankings.
Irishman Doherty, who stunned Stephen Hendry 18-12 in the final in 1997, won a scrappy opening frame of the morning before piecing together breaks of 55, 60 and 42 to lead 7-5.
The 44 year-old, the oldest player in the field this year, then won the last before the interval and further runs of 57 and 60 helped him over the line.
Doherty’s last victory at the Crucible came in the second round in 2006 when he beat Matthew Stevens. He has since dropped out of the top 16 but secured his 19th appearance at the game’s premier event last week with victory over Dechawat Poomjaeng in the qualifiers.
“It’s just fantastic,” Doherty said. “I was saying to my friend Mick in the dressing room that I was starting to get emotional. When I went 9-5 up I started to feel to nerves but I was loving every minute of it. At this stage of my career I’m relishing every moment out there. I came here playing well but with no great expectations. I just wanted to go out and enjoy it, be as relaxed as I could and make it hard for him.
“I knew that if I won some of the scrappy frames that when my arm got going and I relaxed a little bit that I could start to produce some breaks.
“Every year you come here you have to relish and enjoy it, and that’s what I wanted to do. I don’t know how many more times I’m going to be here so I have to try and savour every moment.”
Bingham, a quarter-finalist last year, lost his first four meetings with Doherty, including a 10-8 loss at the Crucible in 2002, but has since won their last four encounters. But the Basildon man was well below par and made no excuses for his first round exit.
He said: “I was shocking. I couldn’t seem to get in the match. Ken did a number on me. I didn’t get round the black spot today. He’s a good layer, a former world champion, and he stopped me. But I was poor in every part of my game. I was all over the place.”
Doherty now faces John Higgins, who beat him in the 1998 world final, or another Scot, Alan McManus.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.