Ding Junhui’s worrying lack of form was the big talking point among snooker fans after he suffered a shock early exit at the Northern Ireland Open.
China’s number one star crashed to a 4-2 loss to David Lilley – a player ranked outside the world’s top 100 – on the competition’s opening day.
Former Masters winner Ding has not won a major competition in the last two years and is outside the world’s top 10 by some distance.
You have to go back as far as 2012 to find his last major snooker triumph in the United Kingdom – an incredible stat especially for a player considered one of the most talented in China with 13 ranking titles to his name.
With his place in the Masters doubtful, Ding needs a good run of form in the coming weeks to secure a place in the tournament, which sees the world’s elite face each other in one of the sport’s most prestigious events in the calendar.
But Ding looked out of sorts and a miserable figure throughout and never looked like pulling off the victory he needed to reach the second round of the Northern Ireland Open, as Lilley impressed to earn a deserved win.
Snooker fans on social media expressed their concerns for Ding’s state of mind.
Alif Ahsan said: “David (Lilley) must have played well but what has happened to Ding. Shocking really.”
Dave Wiseman said: “Ding is a great player but recently he looks totally lost on the snooker table.”
And Colin Hickman said: “No surprise, Ding is just awful now.”