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.

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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