Ding Junhui's remarkable 9-5 victory over Stephen Hendry in the 2005 China Open final spearked the snooker boom that has enabled the game to expand into China.

Ding turned 18 that week and a star was born. Very quickly he won two more ranking titles before his demoralising defeat to Ronnie O'Sullivan in the 2007 Masters final and the general level of expectation on his young shoulders caused him to take two steps back.

He turns 24 tomorrow and will play Hendry again later today for a place in the Beijing quarter-finals.

Hendry is not the player he was then but produced a first rate display to whitewash Matthew Stevens on Monday and, battling for his top 16 place, remains dangerous.

Ding should probably have lost to Kurt Maflin but it's often the case that players who survive a first round scare grow stronger as they make the most of their reprieve.

Judd Trump reached the semi-finals of the 2008 Grand Prix but has done little of note since on TV. He admitted yesterday that this had got under his skin but, at 21, there is obviously time to turn things round.

He will need his wits about him, though, against Mark Davis, a highly experienced player full of confidence who played very solidly to see off Stephen Maguire.

Neil Robertson has, surprisingly, never been to a quarter-final in China and has lost to Peter Ebdon there twice in the last year.

Ebdon, who won this title two years ago, remains reliably tough, although inconsistent. One thing that has always played on his mind is the playing conditions and they have been superb this week.

Ricky Walden has beaten John Higgins twice but both victories came over six years ago and Higgins, though not at his very best, competed well against Nigel Bond yesterday.

Mark Selby got sucked into yet another grind against Tian Pengfei but ultimately came through and should find his contest with Robert Milkins to be more free flowing.

Ryan Day beat Ronnie O'Sullivan for the second tournament running. O'Sullivan played as if it were an exhibition - he even wore his exhibition shirt - and looked thoroughly bored and dispirited in the press conference afterwards.

Maybe the Crucible will inspire him but he is clearly out of love with snooker, or at least proper competition snooker, right now.

Day faces Stephen Lee, him of the miracle 5-4 win over Mark Williams earlier in the week.

Wildcard Li Hang has already beaten two world champions - Ken Doherty and Graeme Dott - and now faces another, Shaun Murphy, who, like the other two, is on a hiding to nothing.


Richie Segal said...

Stephen Lee is the first man through to the quarters, in top form at the moment

Anonymous said...

During the robbo/ebbo game on eurosport HD Mike Smith told us we could watch the rest of the Murphy/Hang match on Eurosport 2.
I immediately switched, only to find cycling, and on eurosport 1 they were showing the same robbo/ebbo match.
How can a tv station have such gross incompetency?

Dave H said...

Mike was correct. It was on Eurosport2 on the continent - I was commentating - but different countries have opt-outs and the UK had one this morning.

Anonymous said...

es2 have diff schedules for different countries

Anonymous said...

Haha...re ES2. Perhaps Mike should have mentioned "For any of our viewers in the Vatican City or Liechtenstein snooker will be on ES2...."

Anonymous said...

1109 and the rest of you who complain about such things

a slip of the tongue or indeed being correct but failing to mention for certain countries is hardly the end of the world

i bet you sit there watching and listening to mike MY APOLOGIES hallet making mistake after mistake after mistake and dont complain about it anywhere/to eurosport


Hi David. I well remember the 2005 Hendry .v.Ding Final. Ding coming from 4-1 down to win 9-5. Ding is the current Wembley Masters Champion. Henry is back to som sort of form. A 147 maxximum in Wales and a 5-0 win over Matthew Stevens in China. on this basis, It should be a cracker. I can't wait.

Anonymous said...

Maybe not the right post to raise this point in but what a shambles the World Snooker website has been for years now. Barry Hearn may have come in but you can't find a simple list of the China Open results on there, just various reports about different matches. The site is so difficult to navigate and probably has the information on there but just not easy to find. That's why it's much easier to find information on the likes of your blog David and the BBC snooker site. So come on Barry, you're doing a great job but buck up the website!

Betty Logan said...

The website is absolutely awful isn't it? I don't bother with it anymore, I just use the BBC or Global for results. The worst thing about it was that when Barry Hearn took control of the sport he actually had the site overhauled, and it actually turned out worse than the one run by the previous administration, and I didn't think that was possible! The layout and navigation is not intuitive at all, very poorly designed and unprofessional; I'm surprised Barry has let than one slide, I can only assume he doesn't "surf the net".

Anonymous said...

Yeah totally agree Betty, the site is a poor show. It really needs to be started from scratch.