ALAN McMANUS reached the quarter-finals of the World Championship for the first time in nine years with a 13-8 victory over Ken Doherty at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield on Saturday night.
The 43 year-old Scot had won six frames in succession to pull away from his 4-3 overnight advantage to lead 10-3, with Doherty’s highest break to this point a mere 26. However Doherty, the king of the Crucible in 1997, finished the second session strongly with breaks of 93 and 88 to close to 10-5 and entered the final interval trailing just 11-8.
But the Irishman was unable to complete the comeback as McManus won the first frame back in three scoring visits and the last with a break of 83, helped by a fluke, to complete his 16th victory over Doherty in 23 career meetings. It sends the Scot through to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2005, when he beat Doherty 13-11 in the second round.
McManus said: “Ken struggled in the first part of the match – it wasn’t the Ken you expect. I was waiting for him to play a lot better. When he got it back to 10-5 he was still in there fighting so I was never over the line.
“I’m still beating some top players now and again. If I get on a TV table I feel more comfortable, although you wouldn’t have known that by some of the balls I was missing.”
McManus will face world no.3 Mark Selby for a place in the World Championship semi-finals, where he figured in 1992 and 1993.
He said: “I’ll be a massive underdog in that game but I try and enjoy it now. I’ve been writing down little phrases on pieces pf paper and taking them out there. It’s a couple of technical things but the last couple of words is ‘enjoy it’ because there’s a lot worse things going on in the world than me or anyone else losing a snooker match, and you forget that sometimes.
“If I get chances I’ll have to take them. Mark is so used to the big stage and he’s one of the top three or four players in the game without question.”
Doherty said: “Alan played tremendous match-play snooker. I didn’t get going in the second session. I was battered and bruised out there. He’s one of the toughest match players I’ve ever faced and he’s never changed. He kept me on the back foot all the time. I just didn’t have an answer for it. I didn’t get into any rhythm.
“I’m a bit flat. I thought it was a great opportunity for both of us, two forty-somethings battling for a place in the quarter-finals. These chances don’t come around that often. But I’ve enjoyed my time here. It’s been thrilling and emotional at times. I don’t know when I’ll be back at the Crucible but I’ve enjoyed the week that I’ve had here.”
Dominic Dale, seeking his first quarter-final appearance since 2000, secured a 7-1 overnight lead against Michael Wasley, who stunned Ding Junhui 10-9 in the first round,
Dale, 42, made a highest break of 106 as he moved within six frames of a place in the last eight.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.