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Ding Junhui: Why the Chinese ace has become the player 'you would put your mortgage on'

Ding continued to show just how far he has come in recent years at the Snooker World Cup (credit:World Snooker)

Sunday saw China A capture the second silverware of the 2017/18 season by lifting the Snooker World Cup in front of a delighted home crowd in Wuxi.

It was a second title for Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo, who recovered from 3-1 down to stun England’s Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins 4-3 in the final to add to their 2011 success.

The dramatic victory provided a perfect finale and brought the curtain down on what was a hugely successful week in the Far East.

While both players contributed in equal measure towards the host nation’s success, it was the performance of Ding that really caught the eye on several occasions.

His clearance to the pink to send them through to the quarter-finals at the expense of Hong Kong was absolutely exceptional. Trailing 51-0 against Marco Fu when he came to the table in that deciding frame, the pressure and expectation within the arena was evident with one mistake seeing the hosts eliminated from the event.

You’d never have known, though, as he calmly went about his business – playing some wonderful positional and development shots along the way – and the crowd literally went wild when he sunk the pink for frame and match.

The question is, with what was at stake, could any other player on the tour have done that under those circumstances?

John Higgins at his peak – yes. Ronnie O’Sullivan when he feels like it – yes. But, if you had to put your mortgage on one player to make a big break or produce an important counter clearance when it matters the most, then you would turn straight to Ding.

In sport, the ability to produce your optimum performance levels under the most intense pressure is what separates good athletes from world-class athletes and, on current form; you would certainly put him in the latter category.

One of the most complete players on the circuit, his break-building is up there with the very best in the world and there may be three players higher than him in the world rankings but, when at the absolute peak of his powers, he is the closest thing to perfection that you see on a snooker table.

Not only that, but we saw further evidence of just how far his mental strength has improved since working with Terry Griffiths over the past couple of years.

The 30-year-old may have looked a little nervous at times during the final – notably being unable to look at times in the dramatic doubles frame and banging his cue after a couple of loose shots – but it released the unbearable tension and there’s nothing wrong with showing a bit of passion and, on the whole, he was very much in control with his cue.

That break of 69 at 3-1 down gave them hope of a miraculous turnaround and, after Liang forced the decider, he made the most of Trump’s error with a run of 59 to put China A in the driving seat.

Even then, Ding may have missed a relatively straightforward red but, when his opponent made yet another mistake under pressure, he didn’t look back and wasted no time at all in sealing the victory.

While his outstanding talent and ability has always been clear within the snooker fraternity, Ding is always getting stronger and, had it not been for running into undisputed world number one Mark Selby in each of his last two Crucible appearances, he would be a World champion by now – no question whatsoever.

Continuing to have confidence in his ability to produce the goods on the big stage will result in him regularly appearing in the latter stages of the bigger events and, more likely than not, further silverware will follow.

The 2016/17 season belonged to Selby but, if he keeps going the way he has been, all the signs are there for the 2017/18 campaign to belong to Ding Junhui…


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Ding Junhui: Why the Chinese ace has become the player 'you would put your mortgage on'

Ding Junhui played a starring role as China A captured the 2017 Snooker World Cup in Wuxi on Sunday - beating England 4-3 in a brilliant final - and showed further evidence as to why he has become the player that 'you would put your mortgage on' producing the goods when it matters the most.

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