Ding Junhui escaped the challenge of Mark Davis to reach the last 16 of the World Championship in Sheffield on Tuesday.
Much has been said about the 28 year-old’s substandard record at the Crucible and few have tipped him for glory after a muted campaign with few highlights.
It looked as though the Chinese Sensation was heading for a fourth first round exit and third in four years when he trailed Davis 4-0 during the opening session, but he fought impressively to turn his fortunes around.
Neither Ding nor Davis played particularly well throughout the contest, although there were some big breaks scattered among the distinctly scrappy exchanges.
One such occasion came in the ninth frame with Ding 5-3 behind and on a break of 97.
Somewhat incredible, and unbeknownst to the man himself, the 11-time ranking event winner was on a maximum break having potted 13 reds and 12 blacks.
Yet, Ding, focusing on a century, casually screwed back for the blue which led to audible gasps from the crowd inside the arena.
The twice UK champion suddenly realised his astounding error and, despite potentially giving up the opportunity of a 30,000 pounds windfall, was able to see the funny side.
It didn’t affect his play too much because he won six out of the subsequent eight frames to book a second round clash against John Higgins.
Elsewhere, Ali Carter and Mark Allen safely negotiated the opening hurdle – the latter overcoming Alan McManus 10-5 while Allen enjoyed a surprisingly one-sided 10-3 triumph over Welshman Ryan Day.
The Northern Irishman’s powerful scoring, with eight breaks above 50 to his name, suggests that he is in the kind of form that will make him very dangerous during the fortnight.
Meanwhile, two further matches reached their half-time with both Ronnie O’Sullivan and Matthew Stevens boasting 7-2 overnight advantages over Craig Steadman and Mark Williams respectively.
In a repeat of the 2000 final which Williams emerged victorious in to claim his maiden world title, his countryman scored the heavier of the pair to open up a 4-2 lead with runs of 111 and 96, before Stevens then got the better of three tight frames to pull away and establish a big lead.
Both of these encounters reach their conclusion on Wednesday while the remaining three first round ties begin as well.
China’s Zhang Anda takes on Players Championship winner Joe Perry while 2005 champion Shaun Murphy plays Finland’s Robin Hull.
Finally, debutant Stuart Carrington challenges many people’s favourite for glory this year and fellow Englishman Judd Trump.
Categories: Snooker News