Last year’s runner-up Ding Junhui trailed Daniel Wells three times in the penultimate qualifying round of the MrQ UK Championship but hit back to win 6-4 and keep alive his hopes of winning the event for a fourth time.
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Ding goes through to the final round – Judgement Day – and will face Robbie Williams on Wednesday with the winner to go through to the televised stages in York. The Chinese cueman won this title in 2005, 2009 and 2019 and was beaten in the final by Mark Allen last year.
Zhang Anda’s recent victory at the International Championship meant that Ding was knocked out of the world’s top 16 so he has to go through qualifying for this event. And he was in danger of defeat tonight when Wells led 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3. But Ding recovered with breaks of 96 and 89 to lead 5-4, then enjoyed a massive fluke early in frame ten when he missed an attempted long red, only for two other reds to drop into pockets. He took advantage by compiling a match-winning 64.
“It was a close game, Daniel played well,” said 36-year-old Ding. “From 4-3 I knew I needed to make some breaks and put him under pressure. The fluke in the last frame was so lucky. The safety was difficult and I saw the long pot and thought I could get the white back to baulk, but I totally missed it and the two reds went in.
“It’s down to me to stay in the top 16, I have to win matches not rely on other players’ results. This is good match practice and if I make it to York maybe I’ll be ready. I love playing at the Barbican – even if I’m not playing well I always feel good there. I was really happy for Zhang to win the International. He tries so hard. It’s good to see more players from Asia winning titles.”
Williams beat Matthew Stevens 6-5 by clearing from brown to black to snatch the deciding frame.
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh fired breaks of 117, 84, 87, 70, 135 and 76 as he beat Andy Hicks 6-2. He now meets Ricky Walden, who got the better of a dramatic finish to beat Marco Fu 6-5. In the deciding frame, Fu trailed 68-0 with five reds left, but got the snooker he needed and had a chance to clear, only to miss a tricky final pink with the rest. Walden slotted in the pink to secure his progress.
Wu Yize top scored with 136 in a 6-2 defeat of David Grace while Michael White made a 67 clearance in the decider to beat Si Jiahui 6-5. On a night of close finishes, Noppon Saengkham recovered a 41-0 deficit in the last frame to beat James Cahill 6-5 with a 78 clearance.
In the previous round, Ken Doherty, who has reached the final of this event three times but never lifted the trophy, earned a 6-3 win over Duane Jones with a top break of 95.
“I’m delighted to win,” said Doherty, who now meets Northern Ireland Open finalist Chris Wakelin. “I love this tournament. It’s hard to win matches these days because the general standard has gone up but my standard has gone down. I would love to get to York but it will be a very tough match next against Chris. I am under no illusions, I will just try to relax and enjoy it.
“When Jimmy White qualified for York last year, I was commentating on that match and when he walked in the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, I got a bit emotional. So to have a moment like that myself would be wonderful.”
Mark Joyce made a 77 clearance in the deciding frame to edge out Iulian Boiko 6-5 while York’s Ashley Hugill took a step towards qualifying for his home tournament with a 6-3 success against Dean Young.