World Championship 2020 – Ronnie and Ding all square after the first session of their last 16 match

Ronnie and Ding shared the first session of their last 16 match at the 2020 World Championship. Neither player was at his best yesterday evening and the standard of the match wasn’t quite as high as most of us expected.

Here are the numbers:


The start of the match was delayed as WST decided not to pull off Mark Selby and Noppon Saengkham who needed just one frame to finish their match. It could have been worse. Indeed the Selby v Noppon decider was a rather quick one. A deciding frame is usually a cagey affair and can take some time to deliver a result … ask Fergal O’Brien and Davind Gilbert 😉. But, quick as it was, it still didn’t help Ding and Ronnie in their preparation probably. The dressing room was likely not available to them, and, of course, at the start, they didn’t know how long this would take. Philip Studd downplayed it, saying that such things – and worse – are commom in tennis. This is true  but tennis players learn to deal with those delays, as they learn their trade, and, surely, in major tournaments, facilities are equipped and organised in such a way that the inconveniences are minimised for the players. Whatever, it was the same for both players.

Here is the report by WST:

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ding Junhui shared the first eight frames of their Betfred World Championship second round clash to end 4-4 after the opening session.

The Rocket booked his place in the second round with a quickfire demolition of Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh. He stormed to a 10-1 win in just 108 minutes, the fastest match in World Championship history. By contrast, China’s Ding required a dramatic final frame decider to book his second round spot, beating Mark King 10-9.

O’Sullivan comfortably leads Ding in their head-to-head record, having won 13 to Ding’s four. However, Ding was victorious 6-4 in their most recent meeting at the 2019 UK Championship, an event which he went on to win. The Asian number one also won their last Crucible meeting, downing O’Sullivan 13-10 in the 2017 quarter-finals.

O’Sullivan took the opening frame this evening with a break of 61. However, Ding immediately responded with runs of 57, 45 and 76 to surge into a 3-1 lead at the mid-session interval.

When they returned, breaks of 60 and 101 helped O’Sullivan to three frames on the bounce, which saw him move 4-3 ahead. However, Ding pegged him back by taking the final frame to set up an intriguing second session. They return on Saturday afternoon at 2:30pm.

There were mistakes on both sides. Before the MSI, Ronnie seemed to really struggle with the pace of the table; it has been recovered since he played his first match. On several occasions, he caught a baulk colour, or caught it too tick, whilst playing safe, and he misjudged the length of a few shots, which is quite unusual for him. Ding seemed to adapt better. One worry is that twice Ronnie missed a straight shot, cueing across the ball. On the other hand, he also played a few quite remarkable shrewd safety shots. Ding was the better player last night IMO, and when Ronnie was 3-1 down at the MSI, I was just hoping that he could take two of the last four frames. He took three.

Still Ronnie will need to play better if he wants to go deep here, at the Crucible, this year.




11 thoughts on “World Championship 2020 – Ronnie and Ding all square after the first session of their last 16 match

  1. In my opinion Ding has become a quite uncomfortable opponent to play against for Ronnie. He lost to him at the Crucible in 2017 and at the last UK Championship. They have a similar game: a fantastic break-building and a very good safety. The difference makes their character. Ding is usual calm, very concentrated and mentally solid. Ronnie unfortunately is the opposite: nervous, anxious, his concentration has too much up and downs, mentally he was never strong except in 2012 and 2013. A bad shot is enough to lose his focus. If Ronnie doesn‘t find his A game, I fear he‘ll lose. When on his day Ding is a tremendous player.

    • I agree Bernd. Ronnie looks anxious and nervous. The conditions are ver heavy and it suits neither player, but Ding is coping better. Whenever Ronnie needs to “force” a shot his accuracy goes. I’m afraid that he will lose this match, and maybe even never get to 37 ranking titles. He doesn’t seem to be able to cope with pressure as he once did. I’m writing this with a heavy heart.

      • Monique, Ronnie has an issue just with the Crucible. I believe, if he plays another 4-5 years, he will win a 37th ranking title. I don’t know what did happen to Ronnie after his great performance with Thepchaiya. Maybe he fears to play against Selby in an eventual semifinal, or perhaps his last defeats with Ding left some scar. The truth is that Ding doesn’t fear anymore Ronnie, who has no more this psychological advantage. And, at least Ding is one of the best players. It would not be ashaming losing to him.

      • Indeed Bernd, And, no, I don;t think Ronnie fears to play Selby, I even think he’d like to have a crack at him. I may sound strange but I think he fears getting to the final and lose again at that stage, feeling as if 17 days of efforts and mental strain were for nothing.

  2. Ding again playing out of skin when Ron en route, meawhile he was nowhere to be seen as usual in the last 3 or 4 years. Also helped by Ron’s careless exhibition snooker. He plays as if he was playing me. This is not looking good and would say Ding is 1/5 fav to win this, hope I’m wrong. But if Ron really enjoys being uncompetitive and play just for fun as he says, who am I to object.

    • As long as Ding can’t improve much and Ronnie played below par, the result was not so bad, but I was happy it ended – what was Ronnie fooling with the rest and fouling on the white/blue, it was so fast, I could not get it. It makes me nervous when Ronnie plays Ding, exactly because of those warm feelings he professes about him (I still have nightmares about 2017.). Well, it is a new day and a best of 17 now, I really hope Ding played his best yesterday and Ronnie played his worst…

  3. The pot stat is quasi enough.
    Just the safety. Of course.
    (~88% must.)

    Like 2013, CoC, QF, 5:5, 0:50…

    • Durind the first mini session Ronnie misjudged a number of safeties, playing too short or hitting a baulk colour. It cost him. After the interval he played some really great safety shots. It would have been interesting to see separate stats foer each mini session.

  4. Ronnie had better be careful. If he tries to play an uncompromising attacking game, we could be in for a repeat of 2017. He has a wider range of skills than any other player – he should use them.

    The decision not to hook off Selby-Saengkham was probably correct. Normally the 6pm rule is to allow the evening spectators to take up their seats at the advertised time. I don’t know about dressing room allocations, but there must be plenty of space now at the Crucible. They are much more used to a ‘rolling’ schedule these days, for example the Home Nations tournaments do that on the main tables. The Covid-19 measures such as sanitising the equipment and ferrying the players to and from the hotel are important enough not to want to have players return later for 1 frame.

    Anyway, these scheduling issues are nothing compared to what is happening at Q School…

    • I know that it was the correct decision Lewis, and of course Covid-19 precautions are paramount. As for Q=school, this looks incredibly irresponsible and I hope that none will get ill. I’m glad to see Fan Zhengyi regain his tour card though after all his efforts and improvement.

    • As for the dressing rooms, yes there are a few. But i’s only the four ones that are on the same level as the TD office that are used for the players usually. Those give direct access to a bathroom with toilet and shower (1 shared bathroom for 2 dressing rooms) The ones upstairs are smaller, poorly furnished, and there is no bathroom.

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