Evergreen Doherty still keen to contend
No retirement plans for former world champion despite Crucible reversal
Ken Doherty: In action during his second round match against Alan McManus at the Crucible venue in Sheffield. Photograph: PA
Ken Doherty insists he will not be leaving the snooker stage any time soon and believes he still has one big tournament left in him.
The 1997 world champion was desperately disappointed to let the chance of a first World Championship quarter-final for eight years pass with a 13-8 defeat to fellow golden oldie Alan McManus over the weekend.
But there were no histrionics or overreaction from the 44-year-old Dubliner, one of the most popular players of his generation.
Doherty had secured a first win at the Crucible since 2006 with a first-round victory over world number five Stuart Bingham and battled back from 10-3 adrift against the Scot to make a game of it.
Five ranking titles
As well as lifting the most famous trophy of them all at the Crucible 17 years ago, Doherty can boast five further ranking titles on his CV.
And though the last of those was the Malta Cup eight years ago Doherty, world number 28, admits the hope there could be a great run remaining in the locker ensures retirement is not on the agenda.
After a 19th appearance at the venue Doherty, who was the oldest competitor this year, said: “It was brilliant playing for a quarter-final place and very emotional at times over the two matches.
“I’ve always felt that I’ve got one big tournament left in me. I’ve always believed that, that’s what keeps me going.
“I know I’m never going to be the consistent player I was during my early 20s, but I always felt that I have one big run left in me . . . Practising has changed a lot as I’ve got older, it’s more concentrated now.It’s harder to put in all the hours I used too, especially as you get older.
No retirement plans
“But at the same time I don’t think I need to practice as much I did before, it’s really about being diligent with your practice.
“I am not about to retire, and I think I am a bit like Steve Davis and Jimmy White. They still love playing the game, and so do I.
“What else am I going to do? Well, I do have a radio show on Saturdays which I love doing, but nothing beats playing. As long as I am enjoying it, I will carry on. If I am not enjoying it any more, then that is when I will stop . . . The travelling is getting me down a little bit over the past couple of years and being away from my wife and my son, it does take a toll. But the odd result like here keeps you going, and hungry.”
There is no guarantee Doherty will get to savour the unique atmosphere of the Crucible again. Changes to qualifying for next year mean those ranked 17-32 must win three matches, rather than one to get through.
He added: “I know that I may never be back, but that isn’t because I don’t want to be back and won’t be trying. It is just going to be that much harder if you are outside the top 16.”