Ding Junhui emerged as the 2023 Six Red World Championship winner with an 8-6 victory over Thepchaiya Un-Nooh on Saturday in Thailand.
The 35 year-old produced a solid performance in an entertaining title decider to overcome the home favourite in Pathum Thani.
After racing into an early 2-0 advantage with back-to-back total clearances of 72 and 71, the Chinese competitor never relinquished control.
Un-Nooh, who won the title in 2015, fought gallantly to restore parity at 2-2, but the 37 year-old couldn’t get his nose in front.
Ding lost the rhythm from the early exchanges but was still able to reestablish his buffer, winning the following three frames for a 5-2 lead.
His opponent responded to reduce the gap to one, but Ding moved to within the brink of glory by taking a dramatic 12th frame on the black.
From a seemingly commanding 7-4 position and with the winning line firmly in sight, the former world number one started to look edgy, though.
Unexpected missed pots in the following couple of frames gifted Un-Nooh opportunities to clear on both occasions to keep the contest alive.
With an excited crowd willing in every pot, Un-Nooh got in first in the 14th frame with a superb long red but wobbled the subsequent black – a shot that proved to be his last.
Ding composed himself when it mattered, compiling a run of 38 to seal the 2023 Six Red World Championship triumph.
Although not a ranking event, victory will be sweet as it represents his first important piece of silverware since the end of 2019.
It adds to his previous success back in 2016, meaning he becomes only the third two-time winner in the competition’s history.
Ding pockets 4.2 million baht, which converts to about £100,000, and will surely have renewed confidence in his ability to go all the way in tournaments.
It may be a reduced format but winning can become a habit, and it’s certainly a good time of the season to feel good about his game with important events on the horizon.
Featured photo credit: WST