Ding To Lose Top 16 Spot After Zhao Loss
Zhao Xintong defeated Ding Junhui for the first time in his career, winning 5-3 to reach the last 32 of the Evergrande China Championship in Guangzhou.
Defeat for Ding sees him drop out of the world’s top 16 for the first time since April 2016. On that occasion he returned to the world’s top echelon by going on an epic run to the Crucible final, where he was runner-up to Mark Selby.
Ding is currently in 9th position in the world rankings. However, due to the two-year rolling format, he loses the £150,000 he earned by winning the 2017 World Open, which is the corresponding event on the calendar. That was the last time Ding won a ranking title, when he defeated Kyren Wilson 10-3 in the final.
The main contenders to replace Ding in the world’s top 16 are Yan Bingtao and Joe Perry. Yan is currently in pole position in the latest provisional rankings and looks likely to oust Ding as Chinese number one.
Zhao came into today having lost all four of his previous meetings with legendary 13-time ranking event winner Ding. The 22-year-old reached his maiden ranking semi-final at last year’s China Championship. That run saw him beat the likes of Mark Williams and Barry Hawkins on his way to the last four.
Ding had looked set to take the opening frame today after a break of 70 had left his opponent requiring a snooker. However, Zhao extracted the foul he needed and eventually edged the frame on the black. They then traded the next three frames to head into the mid-session interval level at 2-2.
When they returned a break of 66 saw Zhao regain the lead at 3-2, before he claimed the sixth frame on the black to move one from victory.
Ding battled on and kept himself in it at 4-3. However, Zhao got himself over the line to secure a momentous victory. He will face another compatriot, Xiao Guodong in the last 32.
Zhao said: “It was a strange match because I think he played better and hand more decent breaks. I felt nervous throughout the game because of the crowd. On the other had Ding was relaxed. Towards the end I think he felt a bit edgy.
“Guangzhou is a city I know well so I’m feeling comfortable, especially as this is the venue where I reached my first semi-final. I had dinner with Xiao Guodong the other day. He is another top Chinese player that I know very well.”
World Champion Judd Trump secured a 5-0 whitewash defeat of Mike Dunn to book his place in the last 32.
The Ace in the Pack has now won his last 14 matches in ranking competition. That streak includes tournament wins at the International Championship and the Crucible. His last ranking event loss came against Robbie Williams at the China Open back in April.
Trump said: “Hopefully I can do the job here. I have never won this tournament so it is a new challenge to try and do well in this one.
“We are still early in the season. Everyone is fighting for confidence and you want to be that player in form coming to all of the events. It is about keeping the momentum going for me. I don’t want to drop off before events like the UK Championship and the Masters come around.”
World number eight Kyren Wilson was also a whitewash victor, defeating Robbie Williams 5-0.
Wilson suffered an agonising 6-5 loss against Ronnie O’Sullivan in the recent Shanghai Masters having led 5-1. However, there were no signs of a dent to his confidence. The Warrior fired in breaks of 81, 101, 116 and 53 on his way to this evening’s win.
Recent Shanghai Masters runner-up Shaun Murphy continued his fine run of form with a 5-3 win over Yuan Sijun. While Australia’s Neil Robertson defeated Zhao Jianbo 5-1.
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