Ding holds nerve to progress as Champions event returns

Ding Junhui. Picture by Monique Limbos

Ding Junhui. Picture by Monique Limbos

DING Junhui held his nerve in the final frame to win a tense tense quarter-final against Barry Hawkins on the opening day of the Champion of Champions.

China’s number one star has endured a rather disappointing start to the season after failing to qualify for major tournaments such as the Wuxi Classic and International Championship.

But today (Monday) proved a far more satisfying one for him despite having to do it the hard way in both of his Group matches.

After beating Dominic Dale 4-2 earlier in the day, Ding had to thwart off a strong fightback from Hawkins to earn his place in the semi-finals – and a potential clash against defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan on Saturday.

Ding was the first to settle in the quarter-final tussle as breaks of 46 and 65 handed him an early 2-0 lead.

Hawkins, who beat John Higgins 4-1 in the afternoon session, got the better of frame three to get off the mark but Ding won the next two frames with a top break of 105 to go three frames clear.

But breaks of 70 and 80 quickly got Hawkins right back into contention and he then dominated frame eight to level the match at 4-4.

Ding regained the lead in what proved a scrappy ninth frame before Allen forced a decider in style hitting the matches’ biggest break of 112.

But Ding managed to carve out a crucial win as a break of 55 helped him claim a place in the last four.

Tuesday sees world champion Mark Selby take on Steve Davis and Judd Trump meets Stephen Maguire with the winners of both games facing other in the evening.

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