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Ding Beats Wattana – And Waits For Baby

Defending champion Ding Junhui came through a tough opening test at the Hong Rui Ma Yushan World Open, beating James Wattana 5-4.

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Ding and wife Apple are set to become parents for the first time within the next few days and the world number six revealed that he is waiting for the call “24 hours a day” in case Apple goes into labour while he is in Yushan.

Ding lost three frames in a row tonight from 3-1 up as Thai veteran Wattana surged 4-3 ahead with a top break of 102. But China’s Ding got the better of a scrappy eighth frame, then won the decider with a run of 80. He now meets Yuan Sijun in the last 64 on Tuesday.

“I played ok, I didn’t feel any pressure because it was the first game of the new season,” said crowd favourite Ding. “It’s difficult to play against James because he has a lot of experience, he taught me a lot when I was young.

“I have been away from snooker for two months so it’s nice to be back and I will try to enjoy the matches. This is just the first game so it’s nice to get some confidence.”

Asked whether imminent fatherhood has made it hard to concentrate, he replied: “When I was practising a week ago it was difficult, but Apple said I should play in the World Open.”

Ryan Day beat Robbie Williams 5-2 with a top break of 81, an important result for the Welshman as it boosts his position in the race to qualify for next month’s invitational Shanghai Masters. Day moves up to 15th place, ahead of Anthony McGill who drops to 16th. McGill, who has not qualified for Yushan, must hope that the chasing pack, headed by Marco Fu, do not catch him.

Riga Masters runner-up Jack Lisowski stormed to a 5-0 win over Chris Wakelin in just 60 minutes, knocking in breaks of 94, 115 and 70. Ali Carter was also in rapid-scoring mood as he beat Rory McLeod 5-0 with 120, 92, 76, 50 and 58.

Barry Hawkins top scored with 124 in a 5-2 win over Sunny Akani while Luca Brecel edged out Scott Donaldson 5-4.