Joe Perry scored his first win in the Masters at the seventh attempt as he beat Ding Junhui 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals of the Dafabet-sponsored event.
Perry made his debut in the tournament in 2003 and lost his opening match in his first six appearances. But he finally got past that hurdle tonight with a fine display against world number two Ding. The Cambridgeshire cueman goes through to face Mark Allen in the quarter-finals at Alexandra Palace.
China’s Ding won a record-equalling five ranking tournaments last season, but has looked a shadow of that player for most of the current campaign, and again tonight made too many unforced errors.
Perry took the opening frame with a break of 79 before Ding, the 2011 Masters champion, levelled with a run of 80. A scrappy 41-minute third went Perry’s way and he extended his lead with a superb 104.
Ding’s 67 helped him close the gap to 3-2 and should have won the next as he led by 34 points on the green. But he hit the black when escaping from a snooker and left a free ball, allowing Perry to clear and steal it by a point.
In the seventh it was Perry’s turn to miss crucial chances, notably a frame-ball yellow, and Ding eventually cracked in a long pink and added the black to close to 4-3.
But Perry dominated the next and finished the match in style in frame nine with a break of 104.
“I’m so pleased to win,” said Perry, who was runner-up to Neil Robertson at the Wuxi Classic earlier this season. “I wouldn’t say it’s a monkey off my back because it’s so hard to win here. But I’m so pleased because when people ask me the best I’ve done in the Masters I always have to say I’ve never won a match. Now at least I can say quarter-finals. I’ve always been one of the bottom eight seeds in the tournament so I’ve got to pull off a shock to win. But I’ve managed to do that now.
“It was a good match. There were a couple of tense frames – I stole one then he stole one. I didn’t miss too many balls and we both played a lot of good safety. I was pleased to finish it off with a century. I’ve got Mark Allen next who played great today and I’m not expecting anything other than a really tough match. I’ll enjoy it whatever happens and I believe I can win.
“This is an amazing tournament and it was a fantastic move to take it to Ally Pally. We couldn’t ask for better crowds and it’s a joy to play here. I had some loyal supporters here tonight – considering I’ve never won anything they’ve done well to stick by me over the years. I’m sure the phone will be ringing non-stop tomorrow and I’ll try to get in as many as I can for my next match. My dad is my biggest ever fan and I wanted to look at him in the crowd tonight when I knew I’d won as he would have been so proud, but I couldn’t see him!”