Sensational Ding Continues Success

Ding Junhui became the first player in 23 years to win four ranking event titles in a single season after overcoming Judd Trump in the German Masters final on Sunday.

The Chinese collected the trophy in Berlin with a 9-5 triumph over his English rival to add to the silverware he already picked up at the Shanghai Masters, Indian Open and International Championship earlier this campaign.

Along with only world no.1 Neil Robertson, who has himself emerged successful in two of the seven ranking events so far and is on a one-man mission to surpass an unprecedented century of centuries for this season, Ding has been the stand-out player of the year.

Less than 12 months ago, snooker websites and blogs were awash with content claiming that it was almost impossible in the current snooker climate for a player to dominate the sport.

Australia’s Robertson, and in particular Ding, are both firmly proving that not to be the case.

The 26 year-old’s performance in the final was another confident display that suggested that the trouble with his temperament is a distant memory of the past.

As he celebrates the Chinese New Year and begins the year of the horse in style, Ding is certainly transforming himself into a champion breed that could easily strut his way into the record books.

In front of more than 2,000 exuberant fans at the wonderful Tempodrom, Ding produced an assured performance that suggests he will be a winner of such events for many years to come.

Indeed, he has already been a worthy victor for almost a decade on the professional circuit, with his latest triumph equalling Jimmy White at sixth on the all-time list with a magnificent ten titles.

In the final, Ding didn’t get off to the best of starts and found himself 4-2 down to an opponent featuring in his first final in around 15 months.

In the beginning, it seemed like Trump was intent on not letting the opportunity pass him by to return to the big-time – not that he specifically went away as such – but the encounter took a significant turn in the seventh frame when the 24 year-old let slip the chance to open up a three-frame cushion.

Ding also took the last of the afternoon session frames to tie the match at 4-4 before he sped out of the starting blocks in the evening’s action with consecutive century breaks.

Before long, he was stealing the 12th frame on the black to go to within one of glory and although Trump kept fighting, he was only prolonging the inevitable.

Trump will be considerably disappointed not to have gone all the way in Germany but will be relieved to finally be showing signs of a return to the form that saw him capture three ranking event crowns of his own in an 18-month spell in 2011 and 2012.

The man of the moment once again, though, is Ding, and the question must again be posed as to how many more he can add before the season concludes.

Of course, his main goal will be to go deep in the World Championship, where he has struggled so often in the past and only once reached the semi-final – where, ironically, it was Trump who ended his run in a thrilling clash in 2011.

Ding’s confidence will never have been as high as it is now, supported by a standard of both break-building and tactical play that can rival anybody’s in the game.

Can he win in Sheffield? Of course he can. Will he? Only time will tell.

Finally, a word of appreciation for the German crowd who were once again magnificent in their show of adulation for the players.

There might need to be some tweaks made to the tournament’s structure, which saw 60 matches crammed into just three days, but the level of enthusiasm shown by the German public for a sport in which they can not boast any stars is second to none.

Long may their love affair with snooker continue.

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