To mark the 20th anniversary, we’re looking back at Ken Doherty’s magical run at the 1997 World Championship in a four-part series with the Darlin’ of Dublin. In part one, we reflect on how he was feeling going into the tournament.
Doherty arrived at the qualifying rounds for this year’s World Championship needing to reach the Crucible at the very least in order to maintain his 27-year professional career.
However, having fallen down the rankings following a poor couple of seasons on the circuit, a 10-4 defeat at the hands of Ben Woollaston in round two saw him relegated from the tour.
Nevertheless, along with Jimmy White, World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn announced on Friday that the Darlin’ of Dublin would receive an invitational card for the next two years.
Further up the rankings, Doherty found himself in a similar scenario 20 years ago after a bad recent run of form had threatened his place in the top 16.
Therefore, as he recalls, confidence was fairly low for the smiling Irishman heading into the Crucible.
“I wasn’t feeling that good going into the tournament,” he remembers. “I’d lost heavily to Steve Davis at the Masters and the Irish Masters. Then, a couple of weeks before the World Championship, I lost to Michael Judge in the opening round of the British Open, so my form was terrible.”
“I was due to play Mark Davis in the first round and I was treating that like a final because, had I lost that, I might’ve been out of the top 16. I was desperate to feel like a part of the tournament – you don’t feel that way until you get past the opening round.”
Short of confidence, out of form and under pressure while facing a potential banana skin in the first round, could Doherty hold it together and progress to the Last 16?