Ding Junhui has established a 5-3 advantage over Mark Selby following the opening exchanges of their semi-final clash at the Betfred World Championship this afternoon.
The meeting of two of snooker’s biggest stars is a repeat of last year’s world final, which saw Selby emerge an 18-14 victor. Both players put on stunning quarter-final performances to set up the rematch. Selby demolished Scottish Open Champion Marco Fu in the last eight, making three centuries during a 13-3 victory. Ding recorded his first win over Ronnie O’Sullivan in ten years, coming through 13-10.
Selby held a 45-0 lead in the opening frame, but Ding countered with a run of 76 to inflict an early blow to the World Champion. It was the first time in this year’s event that Selby has been behind and ends his chances of becoming the first ever player to win the World Championship at the Crucible without facing a deficit during the event.
The Jester responded immediately with a run of 68, before Ding crafted a break of 84 to regain the advantage. Selby then fell one short of a century, with a break of 99 to enter the mid-session at 2-2.
With the world number one 3-2 up, there was a significant tactical battle in frame six. Ding managed to gain the upper hand on his opponent, who is usually so prolific in the strategic side of the game. He edged a 39-minute frame to restore parity.
That seemed to hand Ding the momentum and he went on to claim two in a row, which included a century run of 110 in the last frame of the session, to end play with a 5-3 lead. They will resume tomorrow morning at 10am.