Doherty on the up
Ken Doherty is relishing the increased snooker schedule, telling skysports.com he is still good enough to make the world's elite.
By Paul Higham @SkySportsPaulH
Last Updated: 25/01/11 12:43pm
Ken Doherty says he has been given a new lease of life by Barry Hearn's rejuvenation of snooker, telling skysports.com he is still good enough to get back into the world's elite once again.
1997 world champion Doherty may have reached veteran status at the age of 41, but he insists he still has the game to get back into the top 16 from his current ranking of 30.
Dubliner Doherty says interest in the game for spectators, and match practice for players had both been diminished before Hearn took charge, with as little a six tournaments being played each year.
Since Hearn has taken charge, more tournaments have been introduced, more sponsors have come on board, and new formats of the game have been played, none more different than the one-frame Snooker Shoot Out in Blackpool this weekend.
So much innovation has reinvigorated the sport of snooker, and it has also given new life to those players becoming disillusioned with the lack of action.
"Barry's been great since he came in," Doherty told skysports.com. "I'm all for changes especially if it brings new fans to the game.
"We're having a World Cup this year in July, I'd love to see a doubles tournament come back as well, but all these new tournaments will just make snooker more appealing to those viewers that we may have lost over the last few years.
"He's had so much success in other sports, particularly darts, and he's trying to bring that to snooker, so I think all the players are happy that they're playing week in week out.
"We've now got more opportunities to play rather than going part-time - we'd been becoming par-time snooker players over the last few years with basically only six tournaments to play in.
"It's good we've got a lot more tournaments and a lot more sponsors and also some different variations to the game as well."
The big events such as at the Crucible, the UK Championship and a Masters must stay near enough the same, as the pinnacle of the sport, but Doherty is delighted to see more events crop up around the world, with big tournaments taking place this year in Germany and Brazil.
"The Masters, the UK Championship and the World Championship should always stay the same, maybe a few less frames in the earlier rounds of the worlds shouldn't hurt that too much, but essentially these ones should stay the same," Doherty added.
"It is a world game. It was great to see the two lads from the Far East making history last week (Ding Junhui beat Marco Fu in the Masters final), we've got an Australian world champion, there's a tournament in Brazil and the German masters is almost a complete sell out.
"I'm just looking at the next one, and the World Cup will be great, and if I can get to Brazil I can't wait to play volleyball on the copacabana!"
Form could easily leave you with such a big gap in between events, but with more snooker now it seems Doherty is beginning to find his best again, with regular time on the table doing him the world of good.
"You're not waiting six weeks in between tournaments anymore," he said. "Which is good for me, I'm playing a lot more and that can only help your game."
A re-energised Doherty has now set his sights for the year on getting back into the world's top 16 and returning to the Crucible stage he loves playing on so much, and he feels he is still good enough to do just that.
"For the year the aim is to qualify for the Crucible, to get back into the top 16 and get back up there competing again," Doherty added.
"Age is only a number and the more you think about it the more it will hinder your. I love playing the game, I've always loved it and I always will and I love competing, I've still got that competitive spirit and I absolutely still think I've got the game to be up there."