Ding Junhui fired a century and seven more breaks over 50 as he stormed to a 10-3 win over Xiao Guodong in the first round of the Betfred World Championship.
Ding’s ultimate ambition is to become the first Chinese player to lift snooker’s most famous trophy, and he has come close in recent years, reaching the final in 2016 and the semis in 2017. On the evidence of his tremendous display against Xiao, the 31-year-old is well set for another crack at the title. World number three Ding returns to the Crucible baize on Sunday to face Anthony McGill or Ryan Day in the last 16.
From 2-0 down in the first session on Monday, Ding won six of the next seven frames with top runs of 68, 124, 57 and 72. And he needed just 51 minutes today to add the four frames he needed, making breaks of 61, 51, 78 and 98.
“I played well in the end,” said Ding, who won his 13th ranking title earlier this season at the Yushan World Open. “I just went for my shots and made some breaks. I didn’t play a lot of safety, I just went for the shots without caring, it surprised me.
“Xiao is always looking to beat me. You could see in the first session he played quite well at the start to lead 2-0. He’s a good player, but he doesn’t have that much experience of beating the top 16. He needs more experience to improve.
“I’m confident in my form but I try not to worry about form too much, I’m just looking forward to another chance. It’s good to smile out there, it takes the pressure away if I play some bad shots.
“Everyone is under pressure here, but Mark Selby had the most pressure because he was the defending champion. It surprised me that he lost in the first round. I’d like to play Ronnie O’Sullivan later in the tournament because I want to improve myself and I want to play the hardest ones to beat, to test myself.”
On the other table, Jack Lisowski finished 5-4 ahead of Stuart Bingham in a match which concludes tonight.
Lisowski, whose only previous match at the Crucible was his 2013 debut when he lost to Barry Hawkins, took a 5-2 lead with top breaks of 105, 54 and 128.
Bingham, the 2015 champion, pulled one back with a run of 60, then in the last frame of the session he potted 11 reds with blacks before missing the 12th red on 88.