Ding Downs Higgins In Stunning Fightback
Ding Junhui pulled off a remarkable comeback from 4-0 down to defeat John Higgins 5-4 and reach the last eight of the Ladbrokes Players Championship in Llandudno.
Higgins was on the other side of a fightback at the Scottish Open earlier this season, where he trailed Judd Trump 5-1 in the semi-final but turned the match on it’s head to win 6-5.
The victory for Ding enhanced an impressive recent record against the Scotsman. He’s now won seven of their last eight meetings.
A risky plant by the 2016 World Championship runner-up gave Higgins an early opportunity and he capitalised making a break of 70 to go 1-0 ahead. He then compiled a run of 68 on his way to the second, before reeling off a further two frames to go into the interval 4-0 up.
There was a period of over 30 minutes in the first part of the game where Ding was frozen out without scoring a single point by the dominant Scot. After the interval Higgins looked like completing the whitewash, before missing the final red to allow Ding to stop the rot. The 29-year-old then made his first half century of the match in the sixth frame to move to 4-2.
Ding turned on the style with runs of 67 and 107 to force a decider. Both players had chances in the last frame but it was Ding who continued his momentum to complete an extraordinary comeback and book a last eight tie with Anthony Hamilton.
Ding said: “When I was 4-0 down I just wanted to win one frame. I kept going and made breaks to get to the decider. I then turned my focus to winning as I’m good at winning deciding frames.”
Ali Carter and Shaun Murphy were also involved in a final frame decider, where the Captain came through 5-4 to booka quarter-final tie with Neil Robertson.
Murphy came into the tie in fine form having won the Gibraltar Open on Sunday, beating Judd Trump in the final. Carter has had a strong 2016/17 campaign, having been runner-up at the recent German Masters and claimed his fourth ranking title at the World Open.
The standard could hardly have been higher in the opening stages, Carter claimed the first frame with a century run of 115, before Murphy leveled with a 110 century of his own to level at 1-1.
They traded the next two frames to ensure parity at the interval. Carter resumed play in similar fashion to how he started the match, compiling a run of 107. The back and forth pattern continued as the match went to a decider. The Captain got in first with 51 and that proved to be the decisive blow as he edged past the line in a high-quality affair.
Carter said: “Shaun is a player I seem to have good matches against, he’s in form after winning the title last week so I’m delighted to get through.
“I’ve not beat Neil since 2013, I’ve come off on the wrong end of a few results where he has played very well,” said the World Open Champion. “I’m due a win, it’s good to have a crack at him. In that period of time I’ve played him lots of times but I was going through my illness at the time and I hope it’s a good match.”