Monday, 17 December 2012

Ding ends year on a high

There aren't many better sights on a snooker table than seeing Ding Junhui playing in full flow.

The Chinese star is one of the classiest break-builders around. He has a compact cue action of which not much can go wrong, judges cannons to perfection and has excellent, close, cue-ball control.

Picture by Monique Limbos
This weekend, he won the Scottish Open in Ravenscraig and, at times, played some of his best snooker of the year.

He made seven centuries in total and completed his march to the trophy with a 4-2 victory against home hope, Anthony McGill, in the final.

Victory for the young Scot would have been the fairytale ending for a return to action north of the English border. To reach the final, he battled back from 3-0 down against Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon in the quarter-finals and pinched the decider in the semi-finals versus Andrew Higginson after requiring two snookers.

McGill has a great future and showed he has plenty of his compatriot Graeme Dott's finest battling attributes.

But Ding played like a man who believes his time could be coming here and now.

After winning the Welsh Open back in February Ding has now won the final ranking event of the calendar year and closes 2012 with two new additions to his trophy cabinet. This is an impressive return considering he has struggled with his form for large parts of the year.

These wins will only be a small consolation for Ding though after suffering poor results at the biggest events. He will be desperate to better in 2013 and is hardworking enough to make it happen.

His performance here is a timely reminder of his capabilities. When Ding plays with this kind of confidence, he is immediately dangerous and a contender for every title.

This can't come soon enough for his fans. When Ding first broke onto the scene to win the China Open in 2005, he was tipped to go on to dominate the game.

Nearly eight years down the line this prediction hasn't quite materialised, but he has won two UK Championship titles and also triumphed at the Masters. This is success many professionals will never taste so he should be proud of it but he has still probably only achieved a fraction of what you feel his talent is really capable of.

At the age of 25 he has the luxury of time still being able to win more. Dominating the game now is tougher than ever, such is the stern competition at the top of the rankings. But Ding's main task is to find consistency and then the titles will automatically follow.

If he can carry through the momentum from this tournament into 2013 he is almost certain to enjoy a good year.

The challenge for him as always though is to wipe aside the pressure of being China's leading light and to find a way of getting results when matches turn scrappy.

I will be watching his form in the new year with great interest because I appreciate how good he really is.

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