FORMER world champion Ken Doherty produced an unlikely comeback to beat in-form Essex professional Stuart Bingham 5-4 to reach the quarter-finals of the Malta Cup at the Portomaso Hilton Conference Centre yesterday.
Doherty recovered from 3-0 down to advance. On the verge of leading 4-0, Bingham left a tricky thin cut on the final black in a top-corner pocket’s jaws.
"That threw me a lifeline and gave me a lot of hope. I kept fighting and hanging in there," said Doherty, who from 3-1 adrift won four of the following frames with the only one half-century break.
"It was a gritty performance that’s given me a chance to get a run going and build my confidence. I just need to string together some results," said the Dubliner, seeking his first world ranking event trophy since the Thailand Masters of March 2001.
He now meets Stephen Maguire whose decision to show greater maturity at the table continued to pay dividends. Maguire beat Mark King 5-3 to book his place in the last eight of a world- ranking event for the first time since he won the UK Championship title in December 2004.
"I’ve been blowing up, acting like a spoiled brat - but now I’m trying to win or lose like a man," said the 24 year-old Glaswegian.
"Right from the word go this season, I’ve been playing well in practice - but my head’s not been right. Now I’m determined to play properly and not go for everything if things start to go wrong."
Maguire, who broke through by beating Jimmy White in the final of the 2004 Malta Cup, put his patience to the test as he fell 2-1 in arrears. Breaks of 76 and 66 moved put him in a 3-2 lead before he again looked vulnerable to a shock result as stubborn King levelled at 3-3 with a run of 97.
But Maguire did not panic, controlled the seventh frame and added the next on the green.