DING JUNHUI hopes his turn around in form can lead all the way to history making World Championship glory.
Ding beat four times world champion John Higgins on Saturday 13-9 to reach the quarter-finals of the World Championship and now stands just three more wins away from becoming the first Asian player in the history of the game to lift snooker’s greatest prize.
In recent times Ding, China’s number one star, has struggled to deliver his top game at the Crucible with just one semi-final appearance to his name back in 2011.
Despite winning five major ranking events on route to the Crucible last year – which had made him one of the big favourites, Ding surprisingly fell at the first hurdle losing a memorable first round encounter to qualifier Michael Wasley.
And this season has not been Ding’s best either, it would be fair to say – just winning one PTC event in his homeland China at the start of the campaign.
But is he beginning to click at just the right time? Well he’s certainly been made to do it the hard way in his opening two matches.
Ding got off to the worst possible start in his first round encounter against Mark Davis going 4-0 down before turning the match around to win 10-7.
And in his latest match against Higgins, Ding was forced to make a comeback again after going 5-1 down during the opening session.
Such comebacks in sport are just what a player or team needs to get back into form and the way Ding has fought back so far in this World Championship certainly suggests he is a tougher nut to crack than in recent years.
And if it was not for an unusual lapse of concentration (see video below), Ding could have a 147 to his name during his first round match against Davis. And as well as his determination to fight back, Ding looks to be in good potting form after making a total of 18 breaks of 50 or more.
Speaking after his second round victory, Ding said: “Hopefully I’m going to win the tournament. I believe I can win any tournament, it just takes time.
“I’m playing well, I keep scoring heavily and I’m winning some of the big frames. When I was 5-1 down I just thought about getting one frame back at a time. It’s a long match and I can’t fully focus in every frame, every ball, but I played a lot of great frames.”
And Higgins, a man who knows what it takes to win the World Championship after winning it four times, said after his defeat he believed this could be Ding’s year to shine.
“He seems in a better frame of mind, as if he’s ready to tough it out,” he said.
“His all-round game and safety play are top notch as well. He has grown-up, he’s smiling more, he’s more at ease within himself, he’s a big, big danger to win this tournament. He reminds you of Steve Davis in his prime, with his cue ball control.
“I hope he plays Anthony McGill in the final, obviously I’d be rooting for Ants to win, but otherwise I’d love to see Ding win it.”
DING JUNHUI – CRUCIBLE RECORD
2007 – Last 32, 2008 – Last 16, 2009 – Last 16, 2010 – Last 16, 2011 – Semi-Finals, 2012 – Last 32, 2013 – Quarter-Finals, 2014 – Last 32