Ding Junhui won his first match in the Dafabet Masters since 2011 by beating Kyren Wilson 6-3 in the first round on Sunday night.
China’s Ding won this event in 2011, the last time it was staged at Wembley Arena, then endured five consecutive first round defeats after it was moved across North London. But he ended his Alexandra Palace hoodoo with an impressive display against Masters debutant Wilson to book a quarter-final clash with Stuart Bingham or Joe Perry on Friday evening (tickets available – click here for details).
World number six Ding is seeking his third title of the season having won the Six Red World Championship and Shanghai Masters in September.
Victory capped off an eventful day for Ding as, earlier, he did a live television interview for CCTV5 having been one of six nominees for China’s equivalent of Sports Personality of the Year, though he missed out on the award .
The 29-year-old started tonight’s match strongly by surging into a 3-0 lead. In the second frame he was on target for a 147, which would have made him the first player to make two maximums at the Masters, with Kirk Stevens and Marco Fu the only others to hit the magic number at this tournament. But after potting 15 reds with blacks, Ding ran out of position on the yellow on 120 and missed a tough pot to a centre pocket.
Kettering’s Wilson gained a foothold in the match by clearing from the last red to pink to win frame four, and he took a scrappy 39-minute fifth after Ding went in-off playing safety on the green. Ding regained the momentum as runs of 65 and 73 put him 5-2 ahead.
Wilson pulled one back with a 103 and he led 42-0 in frame nine. But Ding went ahead with a break of 50, then secured victory after Wilson had gone in-off when potting the yellow.
“I scored quite heavily today,” said Ding. “I made a few breaks, but obviously missed a 147. It’s a tough game whoever you play in the Masters. I need to take the chances when they come and make good breaks.
“It’s nice, finally to win here at this venue. I always try to win here at the Masters, I tried really hard because I lost five times in a row.
“I have been practising a lot and I can improve my performance. Whoever I play next I will need to improve.”