World Snooker

All over in a flash: Ding Junhui keeps the dream alive as he surges into quarter-finals of the world championship

The 31-year-old mainlander needs only 10 minutes to finish the job against McGill and set up a clash with Englishman Hawkins

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 April, 2018, 9:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 May, 2018, 1:09am

Chinese superstar Ding Junhui spent less than 10 minutes on the table before completing a demolition job on Anthony McGill as he kept his dream alive of winning the world snooker championship title for the first time on Monday.

The 31-year-old only needed one frame to complete victory over Scotsman McGill after leading 12-4 in the evening session the previous night in their second-round clash and the mainlander made no mistake with breaks of 50 and 38 en route to a 89-1 frame victory to complete a 13-4 triumph.

Ding is determined to complete a fairy tale story as Asia’s greatest player by winning the title he’s never won in Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre – he was finalist in 2016 – and now he’s been made the bookmaker’s favourite after reigning champion Mark Selby and five-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan’s demise earlier in the tournament. Ding next plays England’s sixth seed, Barry Hawkins, in the quarter-finals.

“I was focused and relaxed and took every chance to make breaks,” said Ding, who also revealed he is going to be a father this year. “I feel good and I am playing well.

“Barry [Hawkins] is a great player. It will be a tough game. He plays well at the Crucible every year,” said the mainlander of the 14th seed.

Returning to the table in the afternoon session, Ding went quickly to work, sinking a loose red and then compiling a break of 50 to forge ahead as McGill made crucial errors – first with a simple red that rattled the centre pocket and then a straight forward black.

Both times, world number three Ding took advantage, killing off the Scotsman’s resistance with a decisive break of 38 that completed a quick-fire victory.

However, Ding will remember that he lost to Hawkins on the Englishman’s way to a surprise appearance in the 2013 world final where he lost to O’Sullivan but since then the 39-year-old has shown that was no fluke by reaching the last four on three occasions.

Ding lost to Selby both in the 2016 final and last year’s semi-finals and he could face serious competition for the title from another Scottish cuesman, John Higgins, who looks in sparkling form.

The 42-year-old quadruple world champion, who lost in last year’s final, demolished Englishman Jack Lisowski 13-1.

That was no mean feat given Lisowski – who only just avoided becoming the second player in the tournament’s history to fail to win a frame – had ousted 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham in the first round.

Higgins’ highest break was 146, one short of a maximum clearance, and it was only the fourth time it had been done in world championship history.

He will next face the winner of the match between 2011 finalist Judd Trump and Ricky Walden, who are all square at 8-8.

“I felt for Jack a little bit,” said Higgins.

“It is the worst feeling in the world and the worst venue in the world when you are really struggling. The harder you try, the worse it gets. I could see what he was going through.”

Lisowski admitted the whitewash was playing on his mind, inhibiting his play which had been so impressive against Bingham.

“It wasn’t embarrassing, it was more frustrating and disappointing,” said Lisowski.

“I felt like it could change. Little things were going against me the whole game.”

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse