DING Junhui was crowned the winner of the International Championship after beating Marco Fu in an absorbing final which had to be settled by a deciding frame.
China’s number one star clinched a thrilling 10-9 win over the Hong Kong star and won the top cash prize of £125,000 after coming through one of the best matches of the year.
The grand final, held in Chengdu, had everything including seven centuries, two breaks of 90+, long and tense frames, tactical battles, changes in momentum and almost a 147 clearance.
Winning the final meant Ding became the first player since Stephen Hendry in the early 1990s to win three consecutive major events after his recent wins in the Shanghai Masters and the Indian Open.
The achievement is a fantastic one given the number of talented player’s in today’s game and although the official world rankings will say different, many believe Ding to be the best player on the planet.
The victory earned Ding his ninth ranking title of his career.
The recent weeks have been a massive turnaround for Ding who had previously struggled playing in his home country suffering several early exits in big tournaments.
Leading 5-4 from an enthralling opening session, Ding continued where he left off hitting his fifth century break of the match (108) to restore his earlier two-frame cushion.
But Fu, playing in his second major ranking final this season, responded well and dominated the next frame to go back to being one frame behind at 6-5.
Then Fu levelled the match in style almost making a 147 but missed the 14th black when trying to get perfect position on the final red. The break of 105 made it 6-6.
A break of 71 from Fu in the next frame then changed the direction of the match once again as he regained the lead at 7-6.
Ding battled back in frame 14 with a break of 65 after Fu saw the cueball go in-off when he tried to play an early safety on a red.
But he continued to keep the pressure on Ding as a break of 81 moved him back ahead and just two frames away from the title. But Ding levelled again at 8-8 thanks to two runs of 30.
Both players began to feel the tension and knew the importance of each shot. The 17th frame lasted more than an hour and had swung in both directions with plenty of incident. But Fu took it after potting the final green and brown despite Ding’s effort to get the required snookers.
Just needing one more frame for victory, Fu was first in during frame 18 but was unfortunate to go in-off when potting the pink early in the frame.
Ding, with his backs to the wall, took advantage with a break of 58 which proved enough for him to take the final into a deciding frame.
As expected the deciding frame got off to a cagey start but when Ding had a chance he took it. A break of 81 sealed him the title in the final moments of what was a thrilling contest.
Ding Junhui’s route to International Championship glory
R1 – bt Cao YUPENG 6-5
R2 – bt James WATTANA 6-3
R3 – bt Matthew STEVENS 6-1
QF – bt Peter EBDON 6-3
SF – bt Graeme DOTT 9-7
FINAL – beat Marco FU 10-9