Ding Junhui has won the 2019 UK Championship title after an entertaining 10-6 victory over Stephen Maguire in York on Sunday.
The Chinese number one held off a late charge from his opponent to lift the trophy for the third time in his career.
Ding’s triumph, which sees him rise back up to number nine in the world rankings, earns him a cheque worth £200,000.
It represents the 32 year-old’s fourth success in a Triple Crown event, almost nine years after his last occurred in the 2011 Masters.
This UK Championship title also adds to his previous victories in the event in 2005 and 2009.
In a topsy-turvy final, Ding never fully relinquished control after making a blistering start to the final.
The former world number one capitalised on a slow start from his opponent, taking a scrappy opening frame before adding breaks of 56, 105, and 128 to establish a 4-0 advantage.
Maguire, a champion at the Barbican Centre 15 years ago, responded in gritty fashion to win three frames on the spin but Ding crucially clinched the last frame of the first session to remain 5-3 in front.
The latter subsequently took the opening two frames of the evening bout of play and at 7-3 the writing looked to be on the wall for his Scottish challenger.
However, six red world champion Maguire finally raised his game and a sequence of three century breaks in four frames saw the 38 year-old quickly retrieve the deficit.
Suddenly, Ding was only 8-6 in front and, with Maguire producing the kind of snooker that annihilated Mark Allen in Saturday’s semi-final, the pressure was mounting.
But Ding composed himself wonderfully and constructed a superb 131 to stop Maguire in his tracks, before a cool run of 114 sealed the UK Championship title.
“It’s very special,” Ding said immediately before lifting the trophy aloft amid a terrific atmosphere inside the venue.
“In two years I’ve done nothing but I’ve played very well this week. I was worried about not doing well and I was asking myself if I can win again.”
“This week, I was so confident and playing so well. After I beat Ronnie O’Sullivan, I started to believe that I could win the trophy again.”
🏆 CHAMPION | Ding Junhui has defeated Stephen Maguire 10-6 to win the Betway UK Championship for the third time in his career!
The Chinese star takes home the top prize of £200,000 and will climb to no.9⃣ in the updated world rankings.#baizeofglory pic.twitter.com/IYoEWefapa
— WPBSA (@WPBSAofficial) December 8, 2019
It had been almost two years since Ding appeared in a ranking event final and more than two since he won a tournament at this level.
Often looking miserable on the table and severely lacking in confidence, there were many who wondered whether or not Ding’s plummet would be permanent.
Yet, the now 14-time ranking event winner slowly gathered momentum and was boosted by a marvellous defeat of reigning champion O’Sullivan in the last 16.
When Ding gets to the latter stages of events, he is one of the most dangerous competitors in the sport but the problem was that he wasn’t getting beyond the early rounds enough in recent times.
What this means for Ding’s future remains to be seen but he’ll head to the Masters at the Alexandra Palace next month fully buoyed by this success, and once again will be justly considered as a credible rival to the likes of world number one Judd Trump.
Maguire will be in action in London too after safeguarding his position in the top 16 following a string of fantastic performances this week.
The Glaswegian will be disappointed to have missed out in what was his first Triple Crown event final for a dozen years.
Yet, Maguire was honest enough to admit after the thrilling contest that Ding was simply too good on this day and fully deserving of the UK Championship title.
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