Ding eyes snooker world title as champion O'Sullivan advances

Chinese ace dumps King to reach quarters of snooker's premier event at the Crucible

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 May, 2013, 4:39am


China's Ding Junhui said he felt ready to win the World Snooker Championship after booking a quarter-final place with a 13-9 win over Mark King at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre.

No Chinese player has yet won the World Championship, but former Masters and UK champion Ding has long been tipped as the man most likely to make the breakthrough.

Ding was 6-2 behind at one stage, only to stun King in a match where the Chinese master cueman reeled off four centuries and a further seven breaks over 50.

For Sheffield-based Ding, who will face another Englishman in Barry Hawkins in a last-eight clash, the pressure of playing at the Crucible, in northern England, is nothing like as much of a strain as performing in front of an adoring home crowd.

Yet his record at the Crucible is poor, as in six previous visits he has only gone beyond the second round once - in 2011 when he lost to Judd Trump in the semi-finals.

However, he said he was now coming to terms with playing at the Crucible.

"I find it easier to play here in Sheffield than to play in China," Ding said.

"There are so many things that happen around me in tournaments in China, but you need to be able to relax, concentrate, practise and get ready for your matches. Then you can win. But if you can't relax, then you have no chance."

An admiring King said that on this form, not even Ronnie O'Sullivan, the reigning world champion, could cope with Ding, who won seven out of eight frames in the middle session.

"He was on a different planet and when he's hitting the ball like that I don't think anyone can get near him, even Ronnie O'Sullivan," King said.

O'Sullivan, who had been in self-imposed exile since claiming his fourth world crown, maintained his title defence with a 13-8 win over Ali Carter in a repeat of last year's final.

It was the 13th win for the "Rocket" in as many matches against Carter, and saw him go through to another all-English tie, with Stuart Bingham.

O'Sullivan, who led 9-7 overnight, said he felt jaded in comparison to 12 months ago.

"I'm pleased I came through it, but it's not going to get any easier now," said O'Sullivan, bidding to become the first player since Stephen Hendry in 1996 to retain the title.

"I feel a lot more tired and jaded than I did coming into this tournament last year.

"Mentally it wasn't taxing, but whatever I do people think I've got an advantage. Whatever I say, everyone thinks it's all about me, all about Ronnie.

"Last year I felt unplayable. I was playing some shots and thinking 'Wow, I've got them here'. I knew when I got in I was going to clear the table. And I knew I was just too strong physically, mentally. I felt invincible."