Snooker: O'Sullivan is beaten by bruised Doherty

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A BRUISED left hand failed to prevent Ken Doherty overcoming the former champion Ronnie O'Sullivan 6-2 in the quarter-finals of the Benson and Hedges Masters at Wembley Conference Centre yesterday.

A midweek trip to the Claude Monet exhibition almost cost Doherty his place in the tournament, the former world champion having fallen heavily on his way to catch the Tube.

Doherty, who meets Alan McManus in today's semi-finals, feared he'd broken a bone, but luckily the damage did not prove too restrictive and he was able to gain revenge for defeat in last season's Irish Masters final.

"The hand is still a little sore but it was really bad the other night," the Dubliner said. "I missed the step on the way down to the Tube and grabbed out to stop myself hitting the wall. It was a painful end to a relaxing afternoon. I enjoy visiting the galleries and going to see what I can't afford."

Low on confidence, O'Sullivan resorted to cueing right and left-handed. In the past that action has been criticised by opponents, but there was no complaint from Doherty. "Ronnie is a better player right handed," he said, "so I wasn't sorry to see him keep changing."

John Higgins made a top break of only 49 but still made the semi-finals with a 6-1 victory over Mark King, a newcomer to Wembley.

Higgins is trying to become only the third player, after Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry, to hold the Masters, World and UK titles at the same time. "That triple crown would be a dream but it's going to be tough," he said. "I've got Anthony Hamilton next and he beat me here last season. He also put out Tony Drago in the quarter-finals and he was flying. I'll certainly have to up my game."