UK Championship 2019 – Ronnie’s defence comes to an end at the hands of Ding Junhui in the last 16.

Ding Junhui put an end to Ronnie’s hopes for a 8th UK Championship title, a possible 3th in a row, and a 37th ranking title as he beat him in the last 16 round. All four top seeds have now left the tournament.

It was a very high quality match:

UKC2019ROSL16Scores

Ding was the best player today and totally deserved the win. He started very strongly by winning the first three frames, denying Ronnie a single point! At that point, I have to admit, I was fearing that Ronnie would suffer the same kind of complete drubbing that Neil Robertson suffered yesterday at the hands of Yan Bingtao. Ronnie however managed to punish a rare mistake by Ding to go to the interval “only” 3-1 down. Ding won the first after the MSI and things looked very dire for Ronnie. But he did respond well, and managed to get back to 4-4 with two centuries. Ding didn’t surrender – as he had done only too often in the recent years – he hit back, and fully exploited the most obvious weakness in Ronnie’s game currently: his long potting.

Ronnie stuck to his game plan, attack, and took a few very risky shots. He got a fair share of them but he last one – a very tricky pink in the middle pocket that he missed – proved to be his last. After the match, Ronnie was very gracious and smiling. He likes Ding and has a lot of respect for him.

For the neutral it was an excellent match, and, as a snooker fan, I’m very happy to see Ding playing so well again, enjoying his snooker and smiling. He’s a beautiful player. I wouldn’t mind if he won the title come Sunday.

Here is the report by Worldsnooker:

Ronnie O’Sullivan was beaten at the Betway UK Championship for the first time since 2016 as he lost 6-4 in a high quality match against Ding Junhui in the last 16.

O’Sullivan has lifted the trophy seven times and was aiming for a third successive crown, but was second best today against an inspired Ding in York. The result means that the top four players in the world – O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Mark Williams and Neil Robertson – have been knocked out before the quarter-finals.

UK2019ROSL16-7.jpg

Ding, who won this title in 2005 and 2009, goes through to the last eight to face Liang Wenbo in a Chinese derby. World number 16 Ding has had a disappointing run of form having not win a ranking title for over two years, but on today’s evidence looks to have regained his scoring prowess.

Breaks of 82, 51 and 110 put Ding 3-0 ahead before O’Sullivan pulled one back with a run of 78. Ding won the fifth but didn’t pot a ball in the next three frames as O’Sullivan fired 77, 107 and 124 to level at 4-4.

In frame nine, Ding led 60-0 when he missed a red to a top corner, but O’Sullivan’s reply ended at 16 when he missed a red himself, allowing his opponent to regain the lead. Ding made 45 in the tenth before missing a red to centre, but he soon got back in and added 37 for victory.

“I played well, about 90% of my best,” said 32-year-old Ding. “Ronnie didn’t pot many long balls so he left me chances. I knew I had to start well because he can switch it on at any time, score heavily and win frames. I played good safety. Hopefully I can remember this feeling and play like this in every match.

“I didn’t play many tournaments earlier in the season so I needed ranking points and that’s when the pressure comes. Everyone is looking at me expecting me to win.”

Ding’s mother died in 2017 so he has deep sympathy with Liang, who suffered the same misfortune last week. “He’s got a tough time now,” said Ding. “He is very brave to keep playing and winning. We all love to see him playing well again.

“I know how he feels.  (When it happened to me) my mind was here but my heart was back home. I think he’s the same. I’m sure he just wants to win matches for his mum.”

O’Sullivan, who turns 44 today, said: “I was happy to win four frames because that could have been a mauling. I had a couple of chances from 4-4 but I didn’t take them. I missed a few balls at vital times. Ding played a great match and deserved to win. He could win this but there are still so many good players.”

O’Sullivan will be back in action next week at the Scottish Open in Glasgow.

Here is the match as well as both players interviews with BBC at the end of it:

Big thanks to Tai Chengzhe for those very nice pictures

 

8 thoughts on “UK Championship 2019 – Ronnie’s defence comes to an end at the hands of Ding Junhui in the last 16.

  1. The fact is that the winners of the last 7 Uk titles, Robertson, Selby and Ronnie are all out. And we have many surprises for the quarters like Bond, Ding, Yan, Stevens which beat the favourites. In my opinion Ronnie has not played badly yesterday. He was just outplayed in the first 3 frames by Ding and it was very tough to recover. Ronnie played great stuff from 1-4 to 4-4. Then he missed a few balls and made a couple of wrong shot choices. To be honest Ding was the better player, he was very focused and calm for the whole mach. He never lost his confidence and that was the key of his performance. Two years ago nobody would wondered if Ding have beaten Ronnie. Ding is full of talent and hopefully he’s back where he belongs.

  2. I’m starting to feel more and more like Ronnie won’t win a tournament this year, either because he’s not fully committed to winning or because his game (especially, his long potting) isn’t good enough. Perhaps he’s finally reaching the end of the line, mentally and/or physically.

    That being said, there’s a small part of me that wonders if Ronnie is saving himself for making a run at the Crucible this season. Maybe instead of taking the season off to work at a farm, he is instead just playing aggressively and not putting any pressure on himself to win, with the idea that saving his energy might increase his chances at the WSC…?

    • Well Ronnie has already won a tournament this season, the Shanghai Masters. That said, clearly, Ronnie isn’t in the form he had last season, but then, no player stays at the level for years in a row. Look at Selby, Robertson, Ding, Allen, Higgins, Williams … they all have gone through some dip in form through their careeer. Ronnie had them previously as well. Remember 2005/2006 and 2006/2007? Also 2009/2010 and 2010//2011? That season he didn’t win a match from December to the start of the WC… And regarding the WC, I wouldn’t entertain too high hopes.

      • I don’t entertain any hopes about anything right now, except, maybe that Nigel Bond pulls out a miracle and wins it all, bc he is the only one I could be happy about concerning this tournament. He is such a fighter… Of course, everyone can and will have a bad season, but it is different if you are 28 or 44, and Shanghai Masters aside, I suppose everyone is waiting for that record breaking ranking title and it is not happening and that accounts for a terrible season so far.

      • 6 tournaments, one win, one final, one semi final, twice last 16. I wouldn’t call that a “terrible” season. The thing is, we’ve been spoiled over the last couple of seasons, they have been outstanding. This one is a bit lower key so far, I agree, but still not “terrible”. It’s our expectations that are maybe unrealistic actually. No player can play at the level Ronnie played over the last two years forever. All of them have “lesser” periods. Think Higgins, Selby, Ding, Robertson, Allen, Williams … all have gone through dips in form, and more than once. Ronnie is no different. He’s human, not a winning robot.

      • I wouldn’t say that I have “high hopes” for Ronnie at the WC, but I do think there’s at least a small chance that his general plan for this season is to expend as little energy as possible (while playing a full schedule) so that he’s not burnt out heading into the WC.

        I believe Ronnie when he says that the WC is he least favorite event, and I’m not one of those snooker fans who considers the WC to be the end-all be-all of snooker. But I was struck by Ronnie’s post-match interview after losing to Cahill (which I watched for the first time a month or so ago), in which he talked about how much pressure there is on him in those matches because he has nothing to gain and the other player has nothing to lose. Before watching that, I had always assumed that his losses at the WC to inferior players were mostly a result of him not wanting to commit 100% to winning the event, but now I realize that the pressure he feels has a big impact on his performance, and that he actually feels more pressure against lesser players than he does against better ones…

      • Yes, Mark that’s true. And Ronnie is prone to anxiety. Many people don’t understand that. They believe that with success, confidence comes automatically, but that’s not the case. It might surprise many, but Mark Selby isn’t the most confident person either.

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