Doherty gains Swail revenge

Former world champion Ken Doherty won a high-quality all-Irish battle to secure a place in the second round of the Malta Cup.

The Dubliner compiled two century breaks as he defeated Belfast’s Joe Swail 5-3.

Doherty, 36, had lost to Swail in this season’s Grand Prix, and in the final of the Irish Professional Championship.

“It was nice to get one over on Joe because he’s had the better of our meetings lately,” said Doherty.

“I knew it would be tough because he’s having a really good season.

“It hurt when he beat me in the Irish final but I don’t look at this as revenge because he’s such a good friend.”

Doherty, the 1997 Crucible champion, started sharply as he secured the opening frame with a run of 106.

Swail, also 36, dropped 10 places in the rankings last season to lie 40th in the world but has qualified for the final stages of the first five ranking events and is one match away from the TV phase of the World Championship.

And the two-time Crucible semi-finalist used his tactical craft to edge 2-1 ahead before Doherty’s 68 made it 2-2.

Doherty also won the fifth frame before a clinical 133 total clearance put him 4-2 ahead. The world number 11 had to sit out a run of 104 from Swail in the seventh frame but clinched the eighth in three scoring visits to claim his last-16 place.

Romford’s Mark King doled out further disappointment to Ian McCulloch, whose debut season as a member of the top 16 has been a baptism of fire.

McCulloch joined the elite group at 16 after his run to the Crucible semi-finals last May but he has now won only two matches in his last five tournaments.

He recovered from 2-0 down to level at 2-2 with King before the world number 20 won the closing three frames, finishing with a break of 111, to set up a second-round meeting with Glasgow’s Stephen Maguire.

“I’m playing okay in practice but it’s hard when you’ve only had five tournaments since the World Championship and you’re playing guys who have had plenty of matches at the qualifiers,” said McCulloch.

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