China's Ding eyes world title

China's Ding Junhui said he felt "ready" to win the World Championship after booking a quarter-final place with a 13-9 win over Mark King at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre on Monday.

  • Published: 30/04/2013 at 01:49 AM
  • Newspaper section: news

Ding Junhui of China lines up a shot during the World Snooker Championship 2013 first round match at The Crucible in Sheffield, England, on April 24, 2013. Ding said he felt "ready" to win the World Championship after booking a quarter-final place with a 13-9 win over Mark King at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre on Monday.

No Chinese player has yet won the World Championship, but former Masters and UK champion Ding has long been tipped as the man most likely to make that breakthrough and take snooker's top title to a country where the sport has been enjoying a boom for several years.

Ding, was however, 6-2, behind at one stage only to stun King in a match where the Chinese master cuesman reeled off four centuries and a further seven breaks over 50.

For Sheffield-based Ding, who will face another Englishman in Barry Hawkins in a last eight clash starting Tuesday, the pressure of playing at the Crucible, in northern England, is nothing like as much of a strain as performing in front of an adoring home crowd.

Yet his record at the Crucible is poor, as in six previous visits he has only gone beyond the second round once, in 2011 when he lost to Judd Trump in the semi-finals.

However, he believes he is now coming to terms with the Crucible.

"I find it easier to play here in Sheffield than to play in China," Ding said.

"There are so many things that happen around me in tournaments in China, but you need to be able to relax, concentrate, practice and get ready for your matches. Then you can win. But if you can't relax, then you have no chance."

An admiring King said, on this form, not even Ronnie O'Sullivan, the reigning world champion, could cope with Ding who won seven out of eight frames in the middle session.

"In the second session he played awesome," King said. "He was on a different planet and when he's hitting the ball like that I don't think anyone can get near him, even Ronnie O'Sullivan.

"He's just so good in the balls, hits the ball so sweet."

Hawkins produced one of the shocks of the tournament so far in defeating world number one Mark Selby in the second round but King said his compatriot would be hard-pressed to contain Ding.

"Barry's playing well and in a rich vein of form; he won't have anything to lose. But if Ding plays like he did in the second session there won't be anyone that can get near him."

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