Ding Junhui was in impressive form as he defeated Anthony Hamilton 5-2 to book a Ladbrokes Players Championship semi-final with Marco Fu.
China’s top player came back from 4-0 down to defeat John Higgins 5-4 in the opening round. He’s now won ten of his last 12 frames. Hamilton reached this stage with a 5-1 demolition of 2015 World Champion Stuart Bingham.
With £30,000 prize money guaranteed for reaching the semi-finals, Ding is now set to leapfrog Shaun Murphy and move into fourth position in the world rankings. The Sheriff, who won his maiden ranking title at the German Masters, has produced a fantastic charge up the rankings this season, starting at the bottom and moving up to 33rd. However, today’s loss now ends the 45-year-old’s chances of reaching the top 16 and qualifying automatically for the World Championship.
Hamilton had looked set to come from behind and snatch the opening frame, but his run ended on 43 allowing Ding to move in front. He was punished in the two subsequent frames as the 12-time ranking event winner moved 3-0 up, thanks to breaks of 96 and 93.
There was a ray of hope for Hamilton in the fourth frame, when Ding missed a straightforward plant affording the Sheriff an opportunity. He made a break of 68 and go into the interval with hope at 3-1 down. He then further enhanced his hopes of a comeback in the fifth with a run of 80 to move within one.
Hamilton had a good chance to restore parity in the sixth frame, but missed a red to the middle. Ding was clinical in closing the door on a fightback with breaks of 59 and 73 to run out a 5-2 winner
Ding reflected: “He played well to get back to 3-2 and had a chance to go 3-3, but missed to the middle pocket. I had to do something after that, because I know he is playing well.”
“When I played the first match and was 4-0 down to John Higgins I wasn’t really enjoying the games. After that until now I’m confident. It’s all coming back and I’m interested again,” said the 12-time ranking event winner. “I’m looking forward to playing Marco. He’s beaten Selby so he must be very confident with his form. We will see tomorrow because anything could happen.”