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Ding Denies Higgins

Ding Junhui sent defending champion John Higgins crashing out of the Welsh Open after a topsy-turvy second round tie in Newport.

Both in need of a decent run in a tournament following equally mediocre campaigns by their own very high standards, Ding raced into a 2-0 lead and looked to be in control of proceedings.

However, Higgins, who played poorly in the first round despite seeing off another Chinese in Liang Wenbo 4-1, characteristically battled back to lead 3-2 and go within one of a quarter-final place.

After Ding missed a black off the spot in the sixth frame, the Scotsman had a chance to seal the match with a frame to spare but snatched at a tricky pink with the rest to allow his opponent in to force a dramatic decider.

In the final frame, Ding built up a sizeable advantage and eventually compiled a composed break of 86 to march into the last 8 to the delight of a legion of fans that turned out in support of the 24 year-old.

Higgins at least should be content with the fact that he performed significantly better than he has done for much of the season but that will come as little consolation in the immediate aftermath of not being able to capture the title in Wales for the third straight year.

For Ding, it is an important victory that should help consolidate his ranking, which has taken a sudden surge to as low as 10th in recent weeks.

Steve Davis couldn’t maintain an excellent Welsh Open that already brought the two-time champion a trio of final frame thrillers of his own – whitewashed in convincing fashion by Masters finalist Shaun Murphy.

Bar Neil Robertson, who Murphy lost to at Alexandra Palace, the 2005 world champion has arguably been one of the most consistent players on the circuit in the last twelve months but hasn’t added a major trophy to his cabinet since the PTC Grand Finals in Dublin last March.

In Wednesday’s afternoon matches, which saw the conclusion of the first round, Matthew Stevens edged Barry Hawkins by the odd frame in what was an absorbing contest of high breaks and attacking snooker.

Trading centuries and with a lowest break in a frame of 53 between the pair, home favourite Stevens won the last two frames to book an intriguing meeting with German Masters runner-up Stephen Maguire – himself a 4-2 victor over Adam Wicheard thanks in large part to back-to-back tons.

Ronnie O’Sullivan appeared to have carried on from where he left off in Berlin with a comprehensive 4-1 defeat of Marco Fu and, finally, Mark Allen hammered Ken Doherty 4-0.

The full draw and results can be viewed by clicking here.



Creator of SnookerHQ and a journalism graduate, David has been actively reporting on snooker since 2011. He has been published in national publications and has appeared on BBC World News and on talkSPORT radio as an analyst.