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Liang stuns Doherty; Liu hangs on
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Crucible newcomer Liang Wenbo produced the biggest upset of the 2008 World Snooker Championship so far after a 10-5 first-round win over world No. 4 Ken Doherty on Wednesday.

Liang joined Ding Junhui, who edged Marco Fu of Hong Kong, China, 10-9 overnight, to be the first two Chinese mainland players in the last 16 of the sport's premier event and he will next meet Joe Swail.

The Chinese impact could gather even more force if Liu Chuang, trailing by just one frame against Ronnie O'Sullivan 4-5, follows his compatriots' examples later yesterday in Sheffield, England.

Liang, 21, made his Crucible debut and first-ever ranking event in awesome style. He led 7-2 in the morning session, thanks to breaks of 77, 58, 68, 51 and 95, before sending 1997 champion Doherty crashing out at the first hurdle for the second consecutive year.

"I felt very nervous out there, but to beat a player like Ken gives me a lot of confidence," said the former world under-21 champion, who is now based at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield.

Doherty, 38, now looks sure to drop out of the top 16 of the rankings for the first time in 15 years.

Just 12 months ago, the Dubliner had a chance at the world No. 1 spot only to suffer an opening loss to Mark Allen.

"It's hard to describe how I'm feeling at the moment," he said. "I didn't play the way I know I can and to drop out of the top 16 is the icing on the cake.

"Liang looked like he had no nerves at all, almost as though he'd been at the Crucible more times than me. I just had too much of a mountain to climb."

Doherty wasn't the only former world champion to fall at the first hurdle on Wednesday with Graeme Dott, the 2006 winner, beaten 7-10 by Joe Perry.

That meant three men to have won snooker's most prestigious prize had exited the tournament in the space of two days after six-time champion Steve Davis was beaten by Stuart Bingham on Tuesday.

But Shaun Murphy, Crucible champion the year before Dott, eased through to the last 16 with a 10-3 win over Dave Harold.

(Agencies April 25, 2008)

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