Champion of Champions 2016 – Day 2 – Ding wins Group 1

Here is the report on day 2, from the event official website:

Determined Ding Wins Through

Ding Junhui became the second player through to Friday’s semi-finals of the Dafabet Champion of Champions at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, beating Stuart Bingham 6-4 in a quality match.

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It was anyone’s game at 4-4 but Ding played to excellent frames with a run of 125 putting him the driving seat and then breaks of 45 and 44 clinching the win.

The 29 year-old Chinese had enjoyed a good run of form leading into the event having won the 6-Reds World Championship in Bangkok and the Shanghai Masters in September. He beat Ali Carter in the afternoon session in his first round match as he overcame a 2-1 deficit to take a hard-fought match 4-2.

Bingham had looked in good shape as he disposed of Neil Robertson 4-2, recording breaks of 94, 61, 132 and 59 to take victory. That set up the match to determine who would win Group One. Bingham won a scrappy 26 minute opener, and then compiled a break of 94 to go 2-0 to the good before a break of 93 from Ding reduced arrears.

Bingham though regained a two frame cushion in the next with a break of 61 before Ding took the next two to square the match at three-all. Ding took the lead for the first time in the seventh frame, courtesy of a run of 55 but Bingham pegged him back, winning the 28 minute eight frame although a sizeable delay due to the scoring system packing up didn’t help.

Ding then took control with the best break of the match – a 125 – before closing it out in the tenth frame.

Ding reflected on his superior second half of the match; “I needed to take more time to think about the balls because sometimes with jetlag you need to take a bit more time to think about it and relax.

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“When I was 3-1 down I was thinking, ‘just keep going’ because I knew I could score. I had to forget about the score and take my chances.

“Stuart was having the same problems with jetlag and concentration, so when I missed balls I knew it was okay and I could wait for my next chance, clear up and win the frame. I believed in myself that I could finish well today. After I made the century break I felt a lot better.

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad you play, you have to keep your concentration and keep working hard because a win is a win.

“I won’t practice too much before the semi-finals, maybe just an hour or two a day – getting rest is more important.”

Play continues tomorrow afternoon at 1pm with Mark Selby v Liang Wenbo followed by Mark Allen v Joe Perry, the two winners to meet in the evening.

All credits to Ding Junhui for his battling qualities and persistence: he kept playing his game all along, despite struggling badly and it paid off in the end. Also, you have to feel for Stuart who played brilliantly for most of the day and eventually succumbed to jet lag and tiredness as much as to his opponent fight back. You have to question if really the current schedule, with no break for weeks in the calendar and relentless traveling, is the best for the sport and the players. Neil suggested that time was needed to regroup and work on their technique. Ronnie said that you can’t build your form in events. Top players can afford to miss the odd event, most others just can’t as they struggle financially.

Aside of that, one player whose attitude yesterday really didn’t impress me is Ali. He was struggling too, but no more than his opponent, Ding. Most players, when they have a piece of bad luck, or a kick, just move on: Ronnie does, Selby does, Ding and Stuart did yesterday. They put it aside and focus on the next shot, or the next frame. Ali was a display in frustration, and sour loser act, and this attitude actually cost him. The way Ding was playing in the afternoon, Ali could have won yesterday, had he stayed calm and positive. It was the same in Sheffield last April when he lost to Alan Mc Manus.