Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Comeback king Ding

Ding Junhui's form in China is often the subject of furious debate.

The pressure on him to perform in front of his home crowd is immense and, as a result, his performances have sometimes fallen short of his own high expectations.

Picture by Monique Limbos
But today on the second day of the China Open in Beijing he used the full force of this home support to his advantage; fighting back from 4-0 down to beat Ben Woollaston 5-4.

As much as you have to feel for Ben who was taught a harsh lesson inside the melting Chinese cauldron, Ding showed his class in abundance.

And, anyone left questioning whether Ding can handle the gruelling pressure was answered with a powerful 'yes'.

You cannot under-estimate the impetus this superb comeback will give Ding as he looks forward to the rest of tournament.

You'll all remember how Ronnie O'Sullivan performed the exact same fightback in the first round of the German Masters last month before going on to lift the title.

Ding now knows he can handle anything that is thrown at him this week and will be riding crest of optimism in the next round. This could be a big win for him in the grand scheme of his season.

He faces an opponent equally high on confidence himself next. World number one Mark Selby is in waiting for Ding fresh from his 5-0 battering of wildcard winner Li Hang.

En route to this routine win, the Jester broke his own record for the number of centuries made in a single season surpassing the 54 he made in the previous campaign. Who said he was boring?

Today's matches went exactly by the form guide. Stephen Lee's winning streak continued with a 5-1 victory against Tom Ford while Stephen Maguire came through by the same scoreline.

Graeme Dott recovered from 2-1 down to beat Mark King 5-2 while Judd Trump was far too strong for Jimmy White.

The tournament is bubbling nicely as it looks like everyone means business with the Crucible on the horizon. Tomorrow sees play in the other eight first round matches.

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