Ding’s Long Journey Home for Nothing

Ding Junhui lost to wildcard amateur Jin Long 5-1 in the last 32 of the World Open in China today.

Winner of the Welsh Open title last week, his fifth world ranking triumph of a short but illustrious career, there was a lot expected of Ding on the return to his native land in front of an allegiance of adoring fans.

Of course, this has been the case since the superstar burst onto the scene as a fresh-faced teen way back at the 2005 China Open, when he went on to lift his maiden trophy.

However, things have not gone all his own way back East as the burden of expectation weighing heavily on his shoulders have caused him to flounder in his back yard on several subsequent occasions.

It is not unusual for a player to have a hangover after a tournament success at any rate with the days of back-to-back victories for a player an increasingly distant memory.

In saying that, Ding would not have been expected to have been ousted by 30 year-old Jin Long, your typical journeyman that has dipped in and out of the professional ranks on countless occasions.

Jin played with a relative ease that suggested he should be back in the heat of battle – especially after clinching two crucial opening frames on the black – but simply re-enforced the fact that wildcards have absolutely no pressure on their shoulders and detract from players that have earned their right to play for ranking points and a living.

Take nothing away from the performance of a player that will surely now have aspirations of going as deep into the event as he can, but he shouldn’t be there.

Nevertheless, Ding is out and for whatever reason he can’t seem to get it right in China – something he will have to rectify with a quintet of events being staged there during the next campaign.

Elsewhere, there was a trio of 5-0 whitewashes as Judd Trump, Stephen Lee and Michael Holt inflicted thrashings on Andrew Higginson, Dominic Dale and Stuart Bingham respectively.

An interesting reference on Twitter today compared some of the Asian legs of the calendar to Marmite – either the players love them or they don’t – and that was certainly the case for a lot of the performers on show earlier on.

World champion John Higgins continued to look ill at ease in amongst the balls as he has done for the entire season, missing a series of pots that this time last year wouldn’t have even entered the equation of possibilities.

But the Scot still managed to wrap up an important 5-3 win over Marco Fu, thanks in large part to establishing an early 3-0 advantage following a sequence of scrappy opening exchanges.

Shaun Murphy was more impressive in his 5-3 defeat of Ricky Walden as the Englishman knocked in century breaks of 131 and 115 to continue what has been a distinctly consistent few months for the world number four.

Finally, Graeme Dott overcame Barry Hawkins 5-2 and will face a cold Marcus Campbell for a quarter-final place, his fellow Scotsman having enjoyed a bye into the last 16 after Ali Carter’s withdrawal.

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

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