Ding Junhui has won the 2014 China Open title to claim his fifth ranking event of a superb season.
In doing so, the Chinese Sensation equals Stephen Hendry’s longstanding record – set during the 1990/91 campaign.
Despite a highly anticipated final showdown between him and world no.1 Neil Robertson, Ding ended up easing to a comfortable 10-5 victory over the Australian.
The success will give him even more confidence ahead of the season’s finale at the Crucible in Sheffield.
The World Championship is the one major title to have so far eluded the 27 year-old’s grasp.
However, Ding has never played as well or looked as dominant as he has done over the course of the last twelve or so months.
Ding’s career began in style by winning this very tournament as a spotty, nervous teenager in 2005.
Since then, the twice UK champion has had many ups and downs, many of the latter caused by his own inability to cope with the high expectations from his own people.
Because of this, Ding never boasted an unerring temperament – until now.
Since capturing the Shanghai Masters on home soil near the beginning of this season, Ding has looked a completely different machine.
He went on to add the Indian Open, the International Championship (again in China) and the German Masters.
His performance in today’s final almost typified how far his overall game has come.
Ding always had the tools – his break building ability is outstanding – but it has taken him until now to put them all together in working harmony.
This is reflected by his patience around the table and his confidence to both maintain sizable leads and conjure the fight when the tussle is tight.
Today’s encounter, though, was never close.
Ding knocked in seven breaks over 50, including a brace of centuries, as he continuously capitalised on the host of chances Robertson provided him with.
Robertson, not really producing any sort of form all week but still having played well enough to reach the final, fought gallantly but his opponent was always in control.
Most of Ding’s mental scars appear to have healed, however one does remain and it is likely he’ll have to overcome a certain Ronnie O’Sullivan should he emerge as the new Crucible king next month.
With this triumph in China, Ding has gone a long way in ensuring he will finish the season as the world no.1 in the new money list.
Following his achievements, to say that he deserves it is quite a big understatement.
The fact that Ding isn’t even near his 30th birthday yet should be of grave concern for the rest of the competitors as his tally of 11 ranking event titles looks set to grow.
For Robertson, it was a testing week that began with three deciding frame triumphs amid a battle with a draining virus.
Small consolation for the 32 year-old is that he managed to compile a century in the final, his first of the tournament, to make it 93 now for the campaign.
He will have to have a decent World Championship if he is to go and reach the ton milestone.
Now is all about Ding, though, as he sets about his quest to win the most important silverware in Sheffield.