Another week in China, another time to ponder Ding Junhui.

Few would argue that Ding is one of snooker’s finest break-builders. He has won six world ranking titles, including two UK Championships, plus the Masters.

To me, he is a top four player but the fact remains he is not in the top four and in China itself he invariably struggles.

The conclusion must be that this is the pressure of expectation. When he won the 2005 China Open the week he turned 18 he was a virtual unknown, suddenly catapulted to fame.

Fans maybe assumed success would come easily to him after that initial win, but success doesn’t come easily to anyone in snooker.

The curious way snooker works saw Ding, who hails from Wuxi, have to qualify in Gloucester. Luckily for the tournament he did, but only just, beating Aditya Mehta 5-4.

It is Ding the game has to thank for the Wuxi Classic. It began as an invitation event, the Jiangsu Classic, played in the place he grew up and he won the first staging.

Now it’s a ranking event, one of five in China. But Ding’s influence seems to have benefited everyone bar the man himself.

It seems odd that the only ranking event he has won on home soil was that 2005 success. It proves that home support can be a curse as well as a plus. Jimmy White may agree with that.

Snooker is perhaps the ultimate individual sport but when Ding plays in China he is playing for a nation, knowing there are many millions willing him to succeed.

I don't think this is the whole story with Ding - he is an inconsistent player in general. But it is a factor and part of the reason is that none of his compatriots have seriously threatened his status as top dog.

There are many other Chinese players – eight others have qualified – but Ding is still very much China’s no.1 and this puts him on a precarious pedestal.

On Monday he plays Jamie Burnett, a former Shanghai Masters runner-up. Ding once thrashed him at the Crucible but on Chinese soil the old uncertainties return.

He would, of course, be a very popular winner of the title. Maybe a run to a trophy in China would banish the pressures he feels when he plays there once and for all.

But it is those pressures, as much as the quality of the opposition, which could once again stand in his way.


Anonymous said...

Why no mention of Joe Perry? Congrats to him on his first tournament win.

Monique said...

Ding has enormous pressure to deal with and in my opinion he wold benefit from the help of someone like Dr Steve Peters hugely. Understanding and being able to manage ones emotions is absolutely essential when being exposed to extreme stress. I write "someone like Dr Peters" because, for this kind of help to be effective it's essential that both persons - the psychologist and the person seeking help - are able to express themselves in an accurate way and to understand completely what the other one says. I'm not sure that Ding's command of English - that, to his credit, has greatly improved over the years - is sufficient for him to benefit fully. He would probably need to find someone in China or at least who is a native Chinese speaker. I guess that's not easy.

Anonymous said...

Monique @ 10.28, I know just the man for the job.
Mr. Miyagy.

Steve Pavement said...

You didn't think that through to much, Mr Miyagy is Japanese.

kimball said...

a lot of interesting subjects here.

Mr Miyagy does not speak chinese,
only japanese:-(

Steve Peters is a motivator expert
and probably not what Ding Junhui needs.As Ding Junhui said himself
after the loss in the Crucible," I have nobody to help me, I have to do everything by myself!" and that was a huge surprise to hear and food for thoughts, especially as you saw Terry Griffiths give Barry Hawkins a big hug at midsession.

Ding Junhui was heavily exploited after China Open and UK, then comes
Masters (a max) and a knockout in the final by O'Sullivan and a terrible partisan crowd + drawn against the Rocket in the first round at the Crucible (2-10). It takes very much talent and mental stamina to come back as well as Ding has done. At current pace, he is jockeying to be nr.4 breakbuilder in history in 12 months time.Pretty good for a 26 year old chinese I would say.

Two tours are not happening! It is a very rare window right now and of course it will in a few years time be unworkable with all qual. done in England. The honeypot is in the east and question is if 128 is the right format? Why not2nd.division pro-am tour?!Pretty much what it is now, but asians will eventually re-
fuse travelling to england for one
match and then back to asia for the
main tournament. Granted that they keep filling up the ranks of course.
Mark Williams? Sublime player, God throw away the cast(?) after the creation, he and Hendry the best predators ever, going straight for the jugular, no nonsense!Those + Rocket and Higgins, yes Big four for many years, stats like in a three year period winning 87% of all rankingtournaments says it all.
Finally, good luck to Reanne Evans for sure, but ladies snooker is pretty much dead in the water and much more important with a few new young stars breaking through.Lyu Haotian maybe? Pro rookie now 15yrs old!

Anonymous said...

Maybe the problem is just Ding's general inconsistency. He played some great stuff at the PTC finals but was inconsistent everywhere else. It just happened that Ding's inconsistency happened in China.

Monique said...

I think that Peters is more that a motivator, he's someone who can help people understand their own emotions and how to deal with them rather being overwhelmed by them and I do think this is something Ding would benefit from.
Anyone having been in the media room at a big tournament, especially in China, will know how much pressure and expectations there are on Ding shoulders.
Himself hinted at it in one of his post-matches in this WC: it's a huge burden at times.
The best thing that could happen to Ding is to have a fellow Chinese player making a big breakthrough.

Anonymous said...

Or perhaps Cato, where will he spring up from next?

Anonymous said...

Ding like tim Herman too much domestic pressure

In Wales no real pressure so ding wins

So not top four in my book, questionable top sixteen

Anonymous said...

New season, same old camera work issues.
In fact, may even be worse. Never thought I'd say that.

Anonymous said...

Often wondered what happens to the balls once potted. Seems they fall into a ball tray where they eventually come to rest.
Thankful to the director for making this clear.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for showing the Reanne match, nerves are bound to be an issue first time out so good luck next time.

Good ploy putting the audience out of sight, so we can't see how many are in. Maybe the host broadcaster could add canned clapping to the audio stream so it appears there are loads of people there.

Good to hear Neal Foulds again, but all this morning's commentary sounds like it's being done on a telephone - maybe that explains the time difference.

Anonymous said...

Hardly quantum physics is it?