Doherty books semi-final spot

Ken Doherty clinched another hard-fought victory to continue his precarious journey towards the Malta Cup title in Portomaso.

The Dubliner edged Stephen Maguire 5-4 to reach the semi-finals, his third close contest of the tournament after beating Joe Swail 5-3 and Stuart Bingham 5-4.

A well worked double initiated a run of 31 in the decider and Doherty stepped in with 50 to clinch victory after Maguire had missed a long red.

The 1997 world champion had led 2-0 but Maguire won the third frame with a run of 82 and stole the fourth on the black before his 133 total clearance gave the third seed a 3-2 advantage.

But Doherty steadied the ship with a run of 71 to make it 3-3 before adding the seventh to regain the lead.

Maguire, the winner two years ago, compiled a second century, 127, to secure the eighth but failed to pot a ball in the decider.

Doherty said: “I would have been gutted to lose because I played so well in the early part of the match. Then from coasting I was suddenly 3-2 down but I didn’t throw in the towel because I knew I was playing well.

“I made a good break to win the sixth frame and that gave me real confidence. It was a tough match and a good win.”

Graeme Dott, desperate to arrest a dramatic decline in the rankings, produced a first-rate performance to see off Finnish number one Robin Hull 5-0.

Dott had demonstrated considerable tenacity in coming from 4-2 down to beat world champion Shaun Murphy.

And the diminutive Glaswegian again proved his tactical prowess by winning three successive black ball frames to complete the whitewash.

Dott lost 9-7 to Stephen Hendry in the Maltese final last year but did not win another match in a ranking event until he beat John Parrott in the first round earlier this week.

Although he occupies 13th position in the official list, which applies throughout the season, Dott is down to 30th in the provisional standings, which act as a guide to where players will start the 2006/07 campaign.

“I always seem to go through these phases and it’s just a shame I have to wait until I’m in freefall in the rankings until I start winning,” said Dott.

“I’ve shown both sides of my game here this week. I scored heavily against John Parrott and then ground it out against Shaun Murphy.

“It’s nice to be able to produce different performances but still win.”

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