Ding Junhui is your 2019 UK Champion

After more than two years without winning a title, after months looking dispirited and demotivated, Ding is back with a bang! He won the UK Championship for the third time yesterday evening. Quite incredibly, as Ding is only 32, it cames ten years after the second!

It’s fantastic to have Ding back, he’s a beautiful player, and, by my own experience a nice guy who remained modest despite his natioinal star status.

Ding played very well in the latter stages of the tournament and he’s a delight to watch when on form.

Congratulations Ding Junhui!

DingUKC2019Winner

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker:

Afternoon session: Ding 5-3 Maguire

Ding Junhui leads Stephen Maguire 5-3 after the first session of the Betway UK Championship final in York.

Ding took an early 4-0 advantage before Maguire recovered to take three of the next four frame to keep his hopes very much alive going into tonight’s concluding session, when the trophy and £200,000 top prize will be up for grabs.

Ding captured this title in 2005 and 2009 and is aiming to become the fifth player to win the UK Championship at least three times, joining Ronnie O’Sullivan (seven), Steve Davis (six), Stephen Hendry (five) and John Higgins (three).

The 32-year-old from China is targeting his 14th ranking title and first since the 2017 Yushan World Open.

Glasgow’s 38-year-old Maguire first landed this title in 2004 and is looking to become the tenth player to win it more than once. His only other Triple Crown final came at the 2007 UK Championship when he lost to Ronnie O’Sullivan. The Scot is looking for his sixth ranking title and first since the 2013 Welsh Open. He has won seven of 13 previous matches with Ding.

Both players would go to ninth place in the world ranking with victory, and 15th with defeat.

Ding started strongly, taking the opening frame with breaks of 47 and 48. Maguire looked nervy in the early stages and Ding punished him, compiling runs of 56, 105 and 128 to extend his lead to 4-0.

After the interval, Maguire got the better of a scrappy fifth frame. Ding had first chance in the sixth and made 49 before missing a red to a top corner, letting his opponent in for an excellent 67 clearance.

Maguire kept his momentum going as runs of 42 and 30 gave him to seventh. But Ding took the last of the session with a break of 66 to keep himself ahead.

Evening session Ding 10-6 Maguire

Ding Junhui won his first Triple Crown event for eight years by beating Stephen Maguire 10-6 in the final of the Betway UK Championship.

Maguire went 4-0 down early in the match and, despite a bold late rally, couldn’t get back on level terms. China’s Ding took the £200,000 top prize and the fourth Triple Crown title of his career, having won the same event in 2005 and 2009 as well as the Masters in 2011.

He becomes the fifth player to win the UK Championship on three or more occasions, joining Ronnie O’Sullivan (seven), Steve Davis (six), Stephen Hendry (five) and John Higgins (three).

It’s his 14th career ranking title and first since he won the 2017 Yushan World Open, 27 months ago.

Since then, Ding has produced only occasional flashes of his brilliant best. It has been a turbulent time for him away from snooker – he lost his mother to cancer in 2017 then became a father for the first time in 2018. His priorities in life may have changed but, on tonight’s evidence, his talent remains very much intact.

Ding arrived in York a fortnight ago on a poor run of form; in recent weeks he had lost in the early stages of ranking events against Zhao Xintong, Dominic Dale, Michael Holt and David Lilley. But the 32-year-old’s confidence has come surging back, and since beating Ronnie O’Sullivan in the last 16 he has looked destined for the silverware. He leaps seven places to ninth in the rankings.

Glasgow’s 38-year-old Maguire banks £80,000 as runner-up but misses out on a sixth ranking title and second UK crown, having won the title in 2004. He finishes the event 15th in the rankings.

A high quality final in York featured seven centuries and six more breaks over 50. Those tons took the total for the tournament to 139, beating the record of 137 set last year.

Ding led 5-3 after the first session and extended his lead in the opening frame tonight with a break of 83.  Maguire could have taken the next from 45-0 down but missed a tough red to a baulk corner on 53, letting Ding in to take a 7-3 advantage.

A run of 103 from Maguire gave him frame 11 and he had first chance in the next but ran out of position on 27. Ding countered with 67 to make it 8-4 at the interval.

Back came Maguire with 103 and 124 to close to 8-6. Early in frame 15, he missed a tough red to a centre pocket, and Ding punished him with 131 to go three up with four to play. And yet another century, 103, was a fitting way for Ding to wrap up the last Triple Crown event of the decade.

I have had to wait a long time to lift a trophy again, and this is a big one,” said Ding. “It has been an amazing week and I have played fantastic snooker. It means everything to me. When Stephen came back to 8-6 he looked strong, but I stayed calm and waited for my chances.

“I believe in myself. All week my head has been clear and strong and happy. I still want to win the World Championship but this is also a big one. For the last two years people have doubted me, asking whether I would win again. Now I believe I can win more, and this is a good start.

“I believe more and more parents in China will watch snooker and follow my matches, their children might not know snooker yet but they will get interested and want to play.

Maguire said: “I tried going hell for leather, but it’s difficult when Ding is also in scoring mood. The way he finished the match off was fantastic. At 8-6 I felt I could make more clearances. It’s a tough school. I lost the match by going 4-0 down. I had nerves at the start, I didn’t settle. But I still enjoyed it.”

 

3 thoughts on “Ding Junhui is your 2019 UK Champion

  1. I can’t believe how well he played! I expected a few nerves, at least from unfamiliarity with the occasion, but he played his best match of the tournament, and a great match. I definitely think he got an additional boost from beating Ronnie, and also Yan Bingtao, who had emerged as a rival amongst the Chinese players. In just 4 days, Ding has completely changed the narrative of his career.

    Almost everyone had begun to write Ding off, but actually the story of the last few years in snooker is that top players can recover their best after long periods of staleness. It’s a long time since Ding won anything, and many years since he won a tournament in the UK.

    The next two tournaments in Glasgow (where I am now) and the Masters, Ding is scheduled to meet Judd Trump. Whilst Trump is still the top dog (and World Champion let’s not forget), Ding has two opportunities to ask questions. Yesterday, Ding didn’t show any emotion on winning: there were no tears. This shows that for him, the UK Championship is just the beginning of a process to bigger things…

    • I just had a whatsapp chat with Django Fung, from Grove, and he’s been working with Ding over the last 6 weeks. It’s the same Django who convinced Ronnie to see Steve Peters and saved his career…

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