SHEFFIELD: Former champion Ken Doherty endured a miserable start to his world championship semi-final against Paul Hunter here on Thursday when even the table on which the two men were playing conspired to turn against him.
As Englishman Hunter opened up a 6-2 overnight lead in their best of 33-frame match, Ireland's Doherty fell victim to a suspect table surface.
The problems became apparent when the 1997 winner failed to gently roll up behind the brown in the fourth frame.
As a result, a hydraulic jack was eventually placed beneath one end of the table while a spirit level was used to judge its suitability.
The problems forced the organisers of the 16-day event to issue a statement.
“The table being used for the semi-final was repositioned on Wednesday night to create the one table set-up,” said the statement.
“As the table settled into the floor of the arena, the baulk slate joint moved slightly and a few fragments of plaster collected under the baize near the brown spot.
“Table fitters rectified the problem immediately after the session ended and in time for the start of the semi-final between Mark Williams and Stephen Lee.”
Hunter, who had only previously won one match at the Crucible Theatre before this year, made the most of Doherty's misfortune to open up a 3-1 lead while the Irishman then went on to lose three of the next four frames.
Meanhwile, 2000 champion Mark Williams of Wales celebrated his return to the world number one spot by opening up a 7-1 lead over England's Stephen Lee.
The only bright spot for Lee was a break of 140 in the seventh frame to erase any danger of a first session whitewash. – AFP