Ken Doherty’s resurgence continues as he has sent 2007 world finalist Mark Selby crashing out of the event, while Joe Perry has already seen off the challenge of Marcus Campbell. Carry on reading for more…
Click here to see how the results have affected the provisional rankings.
Mark Selby 3-5 Ken Doherty
106(43,63)-0, 85(44)-86, 13-84(49), 6-121(105), 68(35)-6, 56-62, 70(44)-13, 19-71
Joining Marco Fu on his way home from the tournament tonight will be Mark Selby as the Jester from Leicester lost an engaging clash with Ireland’s Ken Doherty tonight.
With breaks of 43 and 63 in the opener it was actually Mark who looked the more impressive early on in the match before an epic second frame turned the match even at that early stage.
It was a long battle with some brilliant safety shots as you would expect between these two players but it looked like being a fluke for Selby which would prove the difference as he potted the final red. As commentator Willie Thorne said at the time, it did not appear to matter too much at the time given the position of the colours, but Mark played some brilliant shots to clear to blue and leave Ken needing a snooker.
Crucially however, he could not add the pink to finish the match and as Ken got the penalty points he needed to leave himself 12 points behind with 13 on, it was very much game on once again. After some more strong safety it was Ken who was able to take his chance, brilliantly floating in a long pink to land perfectly on the black into the opposite pocket to take the frame 86-85!
Unsurprisingly following such a dramatic frame, it was Ken who was able to push on from here and breaks of 49 and 105 were enough to send him into the interval 3-1 ahead.
On their resumption it was Mark who was able to win the fifth frame to keep himself in contention and as he made a strong start in the next Ken was beginning to look edgy, unsurprising given his last couple of seasons. The 1997 world champion though hung in there and used his experience to get himself back into the frame before laying a very difficult snooker on the final red.
What followed was an incredible series of events as Mark was not only able to hit the red, but he fluked it into the yellow pocket and looked set to steal what could have been another match-turning frame. For whatever reason however, his next couple of positional shots were not good and he found himself sending the cue ball in-off into the bottom-right corner when attempting to come round the table from the green! A very relieved Ken was able to clear the table and leave himself needing just one more for victory.
It looked like it might come in frame seven before an incredible shot which saw him the blue, yellow and cue ball into three different pockets! Though he could not help but smile, Mark would soon wipe this from his face as he took the frame with a break of 43 as a result.
In the eighth Ken was now really feeling the pressure and it looked for a while like he would not be able to get over the line as his positional play became very loose. Mark however was not playing at all well and eventually missed one ball too many to leave Ken with an unmissable red into the left-centre for frame and match.
As an unashamed fan of Ken I am delighted to see him back playing well again and though he did struggle to seal the win tonight, the confidence he will have gained from a win over someone like Mark Selby will only help him in the future. Now just outside the top 32 on the provisional list, if he can continue to perform well at Prestatyn then he will only rise higher up the list between now and May.
As an aside it was very unusual to see Ken wearing an all-black waistcoat tonight, so used to seeing him in the tartan!
For Mark Selby however it is another concerning result and as someone who rates him as one of the top 4-6 players in the game at the moment, his form is something that does interest me. He came into the event already down to tenth in the provisional rankings and is likely to fall further after this loss, something that I would not have predicted a year ago.
As Shaun Murphy demonstrated last season by winning the UK Championship following a series of opening round defeats, his situation is by no means irreversible but he will want to get a few wins under his belt sooner rather than later.
Joe Perry 5-2 Marcus Campbell
74(61)-2, 66(36)-36, 76(56)-15, 0-104(104), 63(40)-53(53), 56-68(58), 61(61)-60(59)
Joe Perry has tonight defeated home favourite Marcus Campbell to win not only his first match of the season, but his first of 2009 to end a barren run since that Masters defeat to Ronnie O’Sullivan back in January.
Without making any huge breaks, Joe wasted little time in moving into a 3-0 lead to put himself in the driving seat, though Marcus made a very tidy 104 to keep himself in the match at the interval.
From that point we saw a succession of close frames, Joe taking the fifth to move one away from the match at 4-1 and it looked like he would clinch victory in the next only to miss the final black for a relieved Campbell to knock in.
The fightback looked to be gathering momentum in frame seven as Campbell went 60-0 ahead but this time Perry was able to complete the clearance, taking the frame by a point to book his place in the last 16.
Coming into the event down in 19th place on the provisional list Joe really needed this win to get himself moving back in the right direction again. With a bit of confidence restored, he could be a dark horse in the last 16.
Marcus meanwhile has at least continued his strong start to the season by making his second venue stage and will be hoping for another good run in the UK Championship later in the year.