All told, the 2010/11 season was a pretty good one for Ding Junhui, China’s standard bearer on the green baize.

His World Championship semi-final with Judd Trump was a terrific battle, which he just lost, 17-15. That was an obvious disappointment but having never previously been past the last 16 at the Crucible he proved that he can handle the pressure of snooker’s most forbidding arena.

That was certainly true when he came back from 12-9 down to beat Stuart Bingham 13-12 in the second round and again in the quarter-finals when he won the last three frames to beat Mark Selby 13-10 after Selby had rallied from 6-10 to 10-10.

In the other six major ranking events Ding reached a semi-final, three quarter-finals and two last 16s, not outstanding but certainly consistent and all those points helped him finish fourth in the rankings, almost 8,000 points ahead of Neil Robertson in fifth.

Most importantly, he won the Masters, triumphing in an all-Asian final against Hong Kong’s Marco Fu.

Again in this match Ding displayed an admirable temperament. He led 6-2 going into the final session before Fu reduced this to just 6-4. Fu looked certain to bring up 6-5 when Ding was left requiring a snooker on the pink in frame 11 but he got it and Fu’s failed escape turned the match back in the young man’s favour.

From there, Ding didn’t lose another frame and ran out a 10-4 winner. The Masters forms part of snooker’s ‘big three’ titles. Ding already has two UK Championship crowns and will be among the favourites to become world champion next year.

And he still has time on his side. He seems to have been around a long time. Indeed, I first saw him play at the 2002 China Open in Beijing where, as a 14 year-old wildcard, he took two frames off Selby.

Ding is still only 24 and therefore possibly yet to hit his peak. When he is John Higgins’s age, Higgins will be 48 and no doubt cleaning up in the World Seniors Championship.

Ding’s talent has never been an issue, it’s been controlling his temperament or, rather, dealing with things when they go wrong.

He was disciplined for smashing the pack at an EPTC (or actually for that well known crime of failing to report an illness) but when he had to dig in last season – as at the Crucible – he generally did.

It’s worth remembering as well that Ding is also a long, long way from home, although he seems nicely settled in the UK now.

There’s no doubt that Ding is one of a handful of players capable of sustained spells of really sublime snooker at the very highest level.

His break-building is, at times, a joy to watch. He’s averaged just over 26 centuries per season so far, a rate of scoring behind only Ronnie O’Sullivan (33) and Stephen Hendry (29).

There’s surely much more to come from him. The final session of his match with Trump at the Crucible was the most watched sporting event in China this year up to that point.

If he wins the thing next year he really will lift off into the sporting stratosphere.


Anonymous said...

think any of us who seen the footage at that ptc versus liang can come up with our own conclusions, especially since the excuses became public after the vids were on youtube.

still a great player though, but needs to remember there are cameras everywhere when youre a star.

Urindragon said...

what if he had fluked a red from that break off shot and cleared up? would he still have been accused of wrongdoing? if no than that's inconsistent

jamie brannon said...

Good that you picked up on the averages with regards to centuries. An even more telling statistic than the quantity of centuries.

wild said...

point is he did not even hit that shot hard enough to be called trying for a fluke.

it was played with pace and stun to make sure Liang had a chance.

Anonymous said...

I have been so impressed with Ding over the last couple of seasons.

When he had his Masters nightmare against Ronnie I thought he was finished, but he has shown over the last two seasons that he is a top player, and his display at the worlds was phenomenal.

I'm backing Ding to have another solid 2011/12 campaign, and he will be a threat at the Crucible again.

Anonymous said...

that isnt the only part that looks "dodgy" on the youtube videos.

its quite clear he was just bashing balls about (though since then hes reasoned he wasnt well) so if hed fluked one from the break, going by the rest of the footage hed have missed the next ball, or one soon after.

now, if you think he was bashing balls for the reasons given, thats up to you. others are free to think differently (without accusing when there can be no proof if he was or wasnt well)

Betty Logan said...

Ding is in good company with Mountjoy, Jimmy and Matthew Stevens in winning the Masters and UK but not the WC so far—I think those are the only ones anyway! They all reached a world final too so it's odds on he'll get his chance. Today's crop of players seem to peak in their late 20s so I actually think there is going to be another level to Ding—when you think about it he's more of a similar age to the likes of Trump and Allen, which are regarded as the "next" generation, although his early achievements have seen him fall in with Murphy/Robbo/Maguire/Selby.

Anonymous said...

Ding a ling, Everyone raves about this guy, but really its just cos he's from China and the powers are desperate to see the game expand over there. Not sure Ding is the guy to back though. He seems like a robotic potter with little personality. Probably practised like a demon to get where he is. Fu is a much more rounded and personable type. And what's with this Liang wiggle when he's lining up the shot? Anyway, once Ding made the effort to travel over he has to give it 100%. You have to want to win otherwise what's the point? That frame reminded me of O'Sullivan and his non-trier routine except Ding obviously wanted to lose, presumably so he could get the next flight out and get back on the practice table...

Anonymous said...

11:08pm What is having ' little personality' got to do with Ding being a great player, DOH!! stupid you, Steve Davis in the 80's had 'little personality'. I believe Ding will soon become a world champion!!

wild said...

in fact Jimmy White in the 80s had little personality.

Anonymous said...

yeah wild, but jimmy could play fast and screw the white back into last week, so the girlies and the guys who are a bit light on their loafers love him.