Ding’s Defence of International Over

Ding Junhui has been sent crashing from the International Championship after a 6-5 defeat to fellow Chinese player Wang Zepeng in Barnsley.

Ding beat Marco Fu to win last year's title -photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.
Ding beat Marco Fu to win last year’s title -photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

The qualifying round to get back to Chengdu had been expected to be a formality for Ding, who was coming up against an amateur countryman.

But just to highlight the strength in-depth in talent over the Far East right now, Wang compiled two tons in the opening three frames en route to a famous victory over the defending champion.

Despite falling 2-1 behind early on, 27 year-old Ding had appeared to regain a stranglehold in the contest and established a 5-4 advantage with the help of breaks of 112, 75 and 63.

But Wang dominated the final two frames for what must go down as the upset of the season so far.

I had written in the preview article for this week’s action that inevitably somebody out of the favoured top 10 or 12 gets the boot early on, but I don’t think many expected this fate to befall Ding Junhui – a five-time ranking event winner on the Main Tour last season.

Amazingly, Australia’s Neil Robertson nearly joined Ding on the casualty list, surrendering a 5-2 lead over Alex Borg before finally overcoming the Maltese in a decider with a century break.

Indeed, there were a total of five encounters on the opening day of qualifying at the Metrodome that went down to the final frame as Kurt Maflin, Mitchell Mann and Chris Melling all won in such manner – the latter over Belgian Bullet Luca Brecel.

Meanwhile, it wasn’t a good day for Ireland’s Ken Doherty as the 1997 world champion succumbed to a 6-4 loss to much heralded youngster Joel Walker.

Fellow former Crucible kings Mark Williams and Graeme Dott had easy wins, though, over Scott Donaldson and Lee Page respectively.

One of the turnarounds of the day saw Michael White fight back from 4-1 down to overcome Sean O’Sullivan, reeling off five frames on the trot and maintains the momentum he is building after a run to the Shanghai Masters quarter-finals.

Elsewhere, there were wins for Dominic Dale, Aditya Mehta, Matthew Selt, Ian Burns, Craig Steadman and Robbie Williams.

The full draw can be viewed by clicking here. 

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