Stevens Stuns Ding In Daqing
Matthew Stevens knocked home favourite Ding Junhui out of the International Championship in China, coming from 3-1 down to win 6-5 and reach the quarter-finals.
It was a bad day for Chinese players in Daqing as Ding, Yan Bingtao and Yuan Sijun were all knocked out at the last 16 stage.
Former UK and Masters champion Stevens has dropped to number 56 in the rankings but proved he can still compete on the big stage with a fine display against Ding. From 3-1 down, the 41-year-old Welshman knocked in breaks of 61, 67 and 127 to lead 5-4.
Ding made a 66 for 5-5 and had a clear chance in the decider but could only make 29. Stevens knocked in a long red to initiate a match-winning run of 63. He is through to the last eight of a ranking event for the first time since 2014.
“It’s a massive win for me,” said Stevens, who now faces Martin O’Donnell. “I had never beaten Ding before to to do so from 3-1 down in China gives me a lot of confidence. I haven’t played great this week but I’m still here. I still like the buzz out there, that’s what we play for.”
Ding said: “After the interval Matthew potted a lot of long reds and my safety wasn’t as good as his. He made the most of his chances. He’s in good enough form to win the tournament. It’s still too early for me to make an assessment for the season because I’ve only played two ranking tournaments.”
Neil Robertson scored a 6-4 win over teenager Yuan to set up a match with Mark Selby, who beat Stuart Carrington earlier in the day. Robertson trailed 4-3 and he was 72 points down in frame eight. But he got the snookers he needed, cleared for 4-4 and then finished the match in style with breaks of 127 and 125.
Australia’s Robertson, who won the Riga Masters earlier this season, said: “It was a huge frame at 4-3, Yuan was unlucky. Every time I play one of these young Chinese players I think he’ll be the next one to win a ranking event – there are so many of them and it’s exciting to see. They are technically amazing and nothing seems to bother them. I expect Yuan will fly through the rankings. He shows great sportsmanship and the match was played in a good spirit. The hard part for them is settling in the UK, playing in the qualifiers and the tournaments there.
“I’d love to push on and win four or five titles in a season, which is what the likes of O’Sullivan, Williams, Higgins and Selby have done, that’s what I need to do to make that next step up. I feel that myself and Ding have already done enough to establish ourselves as great players because we have come from different countries to live in the UK without any family with us. If the tour was based in Australia I would have won a lot more titles. People will never understand what it’s like to be an overseas player, that’s why I think myself and Ding have done amazing things for the game. We were the ones who broke the UK dominance of the sport.”
Ali Carter top scored with 132 in a 6-4 win over Sunny Akani to set up a match with Mark Allen, who saw off Alfie Burden 6-1 with top runs of 112 and 101.
Mark Selby v Neil Robertson
Judd Trump v Jack Lisowski
Martin O’Donnell v Matthew Stevens
Mark Allen v Ali Carter