Ding Junhui held off Belgium’s Luca Brecel to reach the Yushan World Open final thanks to a hard fought 6-4 victory.
China’s number one has claimed five of his 12 ranking titles on home soil and will be looking to add another tomorrow when he faces world number 13 Kyren Wilson. In all, tomorrow’s showpiece match will be Ding’s 18th appearance in a ranking final. If he were to win the £150,000 top prize, it would see him jump to 2nd place in the world rankings.
Brecel will be disappointed he couldn’t reach back to back finals in China. However, it has been a tremendous start to the season for the Bullet, who claimed his maiden ranking title at the China Championship with a 10-5 win over Shaun Murphy.
Ding got the better of the opening exchanges to assert his authority on the tie. He took the opener with a run of 61. A sublime 121 contribution then saw Ding move 2-1 ahead. Despite playing the more fluent snooker of the two, he almost went into the interval level, following a dramatic fourth frame that came down to the black. Ding came close on three attempts at a double, whilst Brecel missed a pot to the top right corner. That left the world number four an opportunity to the bottom left which he deposited and made it 3-1.
The Belgian revived his form after the break and made a contribution of 77, before taking the sixth frame to level at 3-3. Ding responded strongly and consecutive runs of 91 and 80 saw him move to the verge of victory at 5-3. Although Brecel got a further frame on the board it was Ding who emerged the 6-4 victor.
Ding said: “I played well to go 3-1 up. He then began to perform and showed why he is a different and improved player now. It came back to 3-3 very quickly and even when I was 5-3 up he was playing well. I think I produced some of my best safety to outplay him in the tactical side of the game and he left me some easy chances to get over the line.
“Kyren Wilson is an excellent up and coming player. I will have to play my best to win tomorrow. It’s been a while since I won my last ranking title at the 2016 Shanghai Masters, so I’ll give it everything to lift the trophy.”