Snooker: McManus in prime form

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ALAN McMANUS, a finalist six times and a semi-finalist on another 11 occasions without ever capturing one of the game's leading prizes, went through to the last four of the Benson and Hedges Masters with a comprehensive 5-1 victory over Ken Doherty at Wembley Conference Centre last night.

McManus, narrowly beaten by the Irishman in the final of both the Welsh Open and Scottish Masters last year, looked in prime form from the outset despite being forced to play with a new cue tip put on only two days ago. Doherty's 119 clearance to level the match at 1-1 proved his last hurrah, as his Scottish opponent allowed him only 41 points over the following four frames.

McManus has split amicably from his long-time manager Tonny Heenan and he will now be guided by his uncle, Jimmy McMahon.

The Scot joined Neal Foulds in the semi-finals. Foulds, who has dropped from 14th to 33rd in the rankings, belied his miserable form in ranking tournaments this season with a solid performance in beating Dennis Taylor, also 5-1. 'I've been watching this tournament since I was 10 years old and I love it,' Foulds said. 'This is a great venue, but even for an experienced player like me, it's very daunting. I was a lot more nervous than normal.'

Foulds, at 30 the oldest player remaining in the event, added: 'In snooker terms I am Zimmer frame age. There are so many good young players about these days.'