x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Doherty gives his season welcome lift

Ken Doherty made a welcome return to competitive action in the World Series of Snooker.

WARSAW // Ken Doherty made a welcome return to competitive action in the World Series of Snooker which began in Poland yesterday. By his own admission, the popular Irishman has had a "poor" start to the season having failed to qualify for the first three ranking tournaments. But the former world champion has been handed a welcome bye into next month's new Bahrain Championship - and has the chance to regain some much-needed form this weekend. Steve Davis, the six-time world champion, Chinese prodigy Ding Junhui and Mark Selby, the Masters and Welsh Open champion, join Doherty at the Warsaw International Expocentre.

And although no ranking points are on offer, Doherty knows three victories would secure him a place in the Grand Finals in Russia - and the chance of pocketing £56,000 (Dh328,000) on offer to the eventual Series champion. "I've had a frustrating start to the season, but I knew it wasn't going to be easy," revealed Doherty, who dropped out of the elite top 16 last year after 15 consecutive seasons.

"I knew I'd have to go to Pontin's [Holiday Park, Prestatyn] to qualify for tournaments, but I've found it tougher than I thought." The six-time ranking event winner has been used to playing on super-quick playing surfaces and big audiences. "You've got one man and his dog watching you, it's pretty hard to adjust too," added the 1997 Crucible champion. "The tables are also a lot slower than at tournaments. I've just got to dig in, practice as hard as I am doing and I'm sure I'll get some luck.

"That's one of the reasons I'm playing in the World Series of Snooker, it's a good chance for me to find some form." Davis believes the World Series will help spread the snooker word. "What the World Series does is to take top flight snooker to countries who have not had a great deal of exposure," he said. "The last leg in Berlin was a huge success and, hopefully, Warsaw will be the same." sports@thenational.ae