Ding Junhui
Main News, Ranking

Ding Junhui ‘fighting hard’ for top 16 ranking

Ding Junhui produced a strong performance to see off Mark Allen in the opening match of the Tour Championship on Monday.

The recent six red world champion compiled a 116 century break and nine additional half-centuries to dispatch the top seed with a 10-5 scoreline.

In the last frame, the 35 year-old had the opportunity to compile a rare 148 break with the use of a free-ball, but he unfortunately missed the 13th red while on 95.

The triumph nevertheless provided Ding with a modicum of revenge over Allen after losing to the Northern Irishman in the final of the UK Championship last November.

Allen won the opening two frames of the contest but never looked near his best, as has been the case for much of 2023 so far as his early-season form has deserted him.

Ding, by contrast, appears to be growing in confidence with this victory provisionally elevating his ranking back into the top 16 in the world.

If Ryan Day fails to beat Mark Selby in the Tour Championship quarter-finals later this week, Ding will be guaranteed an automatic spot at the Crucible Theatre for next month’s World Championship.

“Yes, I’ve been playing good all day. I was very focused today, and I took my chances well,” Ding Junhui told ITV Snooker.

“I’m fighting hard, I just won the Six Reds, so I think I’m more confident than when I played the UK final. It’s pretty good to start by winning a match like this.”

“Maybe he has got tired after winning so many tournaments. If he could play like the UK final in the second session, I think it could have been trouble for me. He had chances, so it could have been different.

“I’m not fully focused on (qualifying for the World Championship). I’m just trying to win more points to get back in the top 16.”

On Tuesday, Ding’s semi-final opponent will be determined with German Masters winner Ali Carter and European Masters champion Kyren Wilson doing battle.

This year’s prestigious Tour Championship is taking place at the Bonus Arena in Hull for the first time, but the crowd numbers on the first day of the competition were very disappointing.

Tour Championship draw

Ding Junhui 10-5 Mark Allen
Ali Carter vs Kyren Wilson (Tues)

Mark Selby vs Ryan Day (Thurs)
Shaun Murphy vs Robert Milkins (Wed)

Featured photo credit: WST

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