Ken Doherty described his stunning 139 break to reach the Championship League final group stage as an "incredible" moment in his golden 30-year career.
The evergreen 1997 world champion, 51, required a victory in his final group match against Jordan Brown to qualify for the last eight otherwise he was faced with the daunting task of overhauling Thepchaiya Un-Nooh’s high break of 135 if the match was drawn.
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The odds were stacked against the Dubliner at 1-1 with two more frames to play, but the world number 114 rolled back the years in style as he ran in a magical knock of 139 in a 2-2 draw with Brown that saw him progress after ending the section on five points with world number 16 Un-Nooh, who hit his rapid 135 against Brown.
Six-times ranking event winner Doherty – who lost 5-4 to Jimmy White in the World Seniors final after leading 4-0 in August – drew 2-2 with Un-Nooh and overcame Xiao Guodong 3-1 to give him a shot at qualification after the Thai player downed Brown 3-1 and drew 2-2 with Guodong.
“It was incredible,” said Doherty. “I knew if I got a 2-2 draw I had to beat the 135 high break, so when I was on the break I was doing the maths. The pink ended up on the brown spot but I wanted it back on its own spot. I got it back there and managed to hold myself together. It was exciting.
I joked before the match that the high break wasn’t going to happen; the last time I got a 135 was a bus! But I got the 139 so I was happy.
World Championship finalist Kyren Wilson had a slightly more straightforward progression as he hit two centuries in topping Group F.
He enjoyed a 3-0 win over Mark King, drew 2-2 with Scott Donaldson before a 3-0 victory over David Gilbert saw him top the section on seven points.
The tournament concludes on Friday with the eight group winners progressing to two groups of four – ABCD and EFGH winners make up the two last-eight sections – with the winner of each group contesting the final over the best of five frames.
The prize fund is £328,000 with the tournament winner in line to collect a cheque for £33,000 and a place in the Champion of Champions if needed.
- Judd Trump 7/4
- Mark Selby 7/2
- Kyren Wilson 9/1
- John Higgins 10/1