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Determined Ding Wins in Wales

Ding Junhui won the 2012 Welsh Open after a high quality final with world number one Mark Selby ended 9-6 in Newport.

In an absorbing contest, the Chinese Sensation always looked to be in control after edging the opening session 5-3.

That said, it could have been very different had Selby not missed the final black off the spot for an early 3-1 advantage of his own.

In a match that boasted both big breaks and the odd unexpected miss, Leicester’s Selby got off to a positive start by taking two of the first three frames with century breaks to lead 2-1.

In a dramatic fourth frame that could well have swung the entire encounter in favour of his opponent, the Shanghai Masters champion first missed the green while on a frame winning clearance before Ding himself rattled the pink in the jaws of the pocket only for Selby to miss a simple black off the spot for a two frame cushion.

Ding went on to take three of the next four frames in the afternoon’s play before both players served up a treat on the resumption this evening.

Ding, who had failed to win a ranking event title since the 2009 UK Championship, appeared nervous early on with a brace of errant attempts at pots which Selby duly took advantage of to reduce his arrears to one.

However, the conqueror of Ronnie O’Sullivan last night could never get back on level terms as Ding regained his composure to lead 7-5 at the mid-session interval – clearing the table with a 124 century in the twelfth frame.

That lead was extended to three frames for the first time in the match immediately after when Ding made it back-to-back tons with a superb 130 and go to within only one of glory.

Selby, to his credit, characteristically battled on and valiantly compiled the tournament’s highest break in the subsequent frame to keep his hopes alive – a remarkable 145.

Yet, the next frame was to prove to be the decisive one. Both cueists began to feel the heat of the occasion but Ding held his nerve to get across the winning line.

At only 24 years of age, Ding has now won five ranking event titles in his career leaving us to wonder just how many this enigma is capable of achieving as he is yet to even reach his prime for a snooker player.

Beloved by a country fanatical about the green baize, Ding will have gained more  fans in the UK and Ireland this evening for an endearing victory speech that reminds us of how difficult it is for an overseas player to be successful in the sport.

Of course, with five ranking events in China next season, it may be a case of roles reversed for a lot of the players based on these shores.

For Selby, it is a welcomed return to form after a few months of mediocre performances.

Some of the criticism he receives for his style of play is unjust and unnecessary, especially in the aftermath of his victory over O’Sullivan yesterday.

Not every player can be as naturally talented or as attacking minded as ‘The Rocket’ and Selby’s tactics is a notable lesson of a win-at-any-cost mentality.

Today, though, belongs to Ding, who, after a quiet campaign, will be readying himself for a season finale that includes two events in his back yard and the big one in April.

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.

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