Snooker News

Ding Stoked in Premier League

Ding Junhui leapt to the top of the 2011 Premier League table after winning a dramatic night six in Stoke-on-Trent.

The Chinese Sensation came from behind to beat Ali Carter in the final 3-1 having just pipped Londoner Jimmy White in a deciding frame semi-final.

Englishman Carter also emerged from his last four encounter with Mark Williams 3-2 but could not prevent a second final defeat in the series so far.

The night was an unbalanced mixture of typically excellent snooker and uncharacteristically scrappy play from four of the best the sport has on display.

Williams began the evening in techy fashion with the Welshman seemingly unable to come to terms with the 20-second shot clock despite this being the 36 year-old’s third outing of the competition this year.

However, at 2-1 behind in his semi-final the German Masters champion produced one of his routinely nonchalant breaks of 115 – the highest of the night and the only century – to force a deciding frame shoot-out.

Carter, though, played the perfect final game – where the frame is reduced to a maximum of 10 minutes with a 20-second shot clock for the first half and a 15-second shot clock for the remaining five minutes – as he kept his opponent away from the table and progressed to his second final in three weeks.

In the second semi-final, Jimmy White knew that anything other than a victory would see him being the first to be dumped out of the tournament.

The ‘Whirlwind’ had failed win a single frame in his other two nights of PL action and thus had not registered a point in the league so far.

Yet, White, who will defend his World Seniors Championship crown next month, performed a lot better in front of the television cameras than he did in his previous two occasions and sealed his first frame and league point in the opener – supported by a timely fluke on the final red.

The 49 year-old should have made it two in a row but missed a black off the spot while on 59 to allow Ding to counter and the Chinese star levelled on the final ball.

The next two frames were shared before Ding, despite his best efforts to offer Jimmy a succession of extra chances, completed the victory 3-2.

In the final, Carter took the opener in style and appeared the more comfortable of the pair but lost his way as the match went on.

Indeed, neither were cueing particularly well and, after Ding had squared the match, an elongated, scrappy third frame went to the 24 year-old.

The Masters champion wrapped up the triumph in the next frame and leads the standings on ten points, one ahead Welshmen Williams and Matthew Stevens.

Ronnie O’Sullivan currently occupies the fourth play-off spot but, with four nights remaining and the league so tightly compressed, it is still anyone’s guess who will emerge from the pack for the semi-finals later this year.

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