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Snooker: Hunter misery as Ken wins it.

Byline: JOHN KING

KEN Doherty was responsible for snooker's own version of the Great Escape when he completed a 17-16 victory over Paul Hunter in the semi-finals of the Embassy world championship at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre.

Doherty, six down with nine to play and two behind with a maximum three frames left, somehow conjured up the strength to hold himself together and go through to today's 35 frames final which carry a first prize pounds 270,000.

Hunter, 15-9 ahead going into the final nine frames session, just two short of victory experienced the jitters as the Irishman fought back to level at 16-all.

Doherty, the 1997 world champion who had won his first two matches in the deciding frame, 10-9 against Shaun Murphy and 13-12 against Graeme Dott before claiming a 13-8 success over John Higgins, was clutching at straws when play resumed.

On-site bookmakers, Ladbrokes, were offering Doherty at 40-1 to win the title and 16-1 to beat Hunter who was given a 100-1 on quote to win the two frames which would carry him into today's best-of-35 final.

But world No5 Doherty took advantage of a basketful of chances offered to him by the 24-year-old as he clawed his way back 14-15.

He began with a break of 73 followed up with a 93 to win the first two frames of the day.

It was afterwards that Hunter's problems increased. He missed the frame-ball yellow in the 27th enabling Doherty to clear the colours and win it on the black and in the next led 52-0 only for the Irishman to clear and reduce the deficit to two.

Frame 29 produced errors from both players, but Hunter left the last red over the yellow pocket and Doherty did what was necessary to get to within a frame of his opponent for the first time since he went 1-0 behind at the start.

By now, though, the pressure was sticking to both players like glue and while Doherty, 47-5 behind in frame 30, pulled his way back to 47-35 and 55-46, he missed a dolly green using the rest.

Hunter sensed this was another big chance to move off the 15 mark and a clearance from brown to pink took him to with a frame of victory.

It meant now that Doherty had to win the last three to complete one of the game's most amazing comebacks.

He began confidently enough in frame 31 compiling a break of 52 before being forced to play safe but when Hunter got in, he replied with 36 only to fail with a rest shot on the 14th red.

Doherty though could only play safe and he failed to get out of trouble when snookered on the same red a little later. He hit the brown first and then pink when put back in.

Hunter was now just six points adrift but a red and black took him two in front and only a red remaining.

The British Open champion now found trouble of his own accord, hitting the brown before the red and going in off. Doherty after potting the red was in pole position to win the frame but he could maintain position from yellow to green and played safe leading 64-54.

Doherty eventually potted the green, Hunter the brown while luck favoured Doherty for a change when he fluked a snooker.

The luck stayed with him when he missed the blue to the top right hand pocket only to fluke it into the middle pocket on the other side of the table. The frame went to Doherty 78-58 - the score 16-15 to Hunter.

CAPTION(S):

WON-DOH-FUL: Ken Doherty on course to his amazing recovery against Paul Hunter (left)
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 4, 2003
Words:619
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