Snooker News

Sterling Ding Seeking Silverware

On Friday, Ding Junhui became the first man in ten years to win back-to-back ranking event titles in a single season.

Ding added the inaugural Indian Open to the Shanghai Masters title he captured in China last month.

It had been a long time since this feat has been achieved, with Ronnie O’Sullivan being the last player to win successive rankers at the 2003 European Open and Irish Masters – although the ‘Rocket’ did triumph in the last event of the 2007/8 campaign and the first tournament of the following season.

With my internet problems of late, I didn’t get to see any of the competition in New Dehli but by all accounts I am led to believe that Ding again played very well.

It is bizarre then that his achievement has not garnered more significant attention.

As frequently noted by many commentators and analysts alike over the course of the last number of years, there has been no dominant force on the circuit.

When he plays, O’Sullivan, more than most, has the potential to tally a collection of trophies at a canter but even he is not infallible.

The reality is that these trophies, of which there are now many, are shared around by a selection of around ten people, with even more consistently in the hunt to break through.

A look at the top 16 in the rankings list and it is quite understandable to consider each of them as possible tournament winners at the outset of any given week around the world.

It is for this reason that Ding’s double success in quick succession should be lauded.

Yes, the Indian Open was played under a shorter, PTC like, format, but the 26 year-old still had to beat the players in front of him.

The manner of both of Ding’s victories too must be recognised.

This is a man who for long spells of his career has struggled to deal with the pressure and expectation of being one of China’s biggest sport stars.

This is a competitor who many had begun to believe lacked the temperament to be a dominant force in the sport, despite his obvious and considerable talent.

In September, after eight years of almost desperation at times, Ding finally won a second ranking event on home soil when he emerged victorious over countryman Xiao Guodong in Shanghai.

And where he used to tend to disappear after a defining victory, he followed it up with a succession of battling 4-3 and 4-2 wins to reach the last four in South Asia, before completely dominating his last two encounters for the title.

This is a player who remains one of the youngest players on the Main Tour and that, to everyone else, should be a clear warning sign.

It will be very difficult for anybody to dominate in the same guise as a Steve Davis or Stephen Hendry during their eras of excellence.

In fact, it is almost impossible.

But there a few players who fall into the bracket of those who could definitely enjoy sustained success.

Ding is one of those players, as are Neil Robertson, Judd Trump and, of course, Ronnie.

After capturing his seventh and eighth ranking events, the question must be asked as to how many he can win overall, and indeed this season?

Such is the abundance of tournaments now that there are nine full ranking events left this campaign – that’s right, nine!

It would not be surprising to see Ding’s name etched on a couple more pieces of silverware by the time May comes around, and he’ll certainly have his eyes on the coveted World Championship, which has so far eluded his grasp.

What is for sure is that if Ding can make it a hat-trick of victories at the lucrative International Championship next week, the attention surrounding his performances on the table will multiply tenfold.

And deservedly so.

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  1. David, do you really think Ding has chances for winning the World Championship? It seems to me that he is not that good at long distances and at longer matches. The fact he wins a lot of matches in the final frame is not an advantage as well.

    • On the contrary, the fact he is now winning a lot of matches in deciders is a major positive and highlights his improved temperament.

      I would be very surprised if Ding never wins the World Championship – but that’s not to say he will. Many great players haven’t.

      • I agree with you that winning matches in deciders is a good sign of temperament, but this is the case when Ding plays with top 16 players and in New Dehli he won his matches with J.Higgins & N.Robertson by the same scoreline 4:2, whitewashing A.Mehta in the final. The wins in deciders were with lower ranked players. Is it underestimation of his opponents or anything else?

        As for me, I like the way Ding plays and behaves at the table. I only wish he could become a stronger player. He is very young and has made a great number of century breaks, including several maximuns. Does he have a potential to beat Ronnie & Steven’s record? I see no-one else, but Ding who is capable of reaching them (J.Higgins is capable of this, it goes without saying).

        Is it possible to write an article about such great players who never won the World Championship? I guess I am not the only reader who is not that experienced in snooker as you are. Living in Belarus I do not have many chances to follow all snooker events. Thanks to you for keeping us updated.

        • I think at the beginning of a tournament deciders can be forgiven because it’s difficult to be at the top of your game from the first moment – especially in short formats. He grew stronger as the event progressed which was again a good sign.

          Ding definitely has the potential to surpass Hendry, especially with their being so many tournaments on the calendar now. If Ronnie plays for another five or so years he’ll be close to surpassing 1000 centuries. It would take somebody very special to eclipse that.

          Yeah, sure. When there is a gap next in tournaments I’ll write an article on that. As always, many thanks for reading!

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