Masterful Ding closes in on quarterfinals at worlds

AFP
Ding Junhui is one frame away from booking his place in the quarterfinals of the world championships after dominating Anthony McGill 12-4 in their second round clash in London.
AFP

Chinese snooker superstar Ding Junhui is one frame away from booking his place in the quarterfinals of the world championships after dominating Anthony McGill 12-4 in their second round clash in London.

The 31-year-old, the losing finalist in 2016, is the new favorite after five-time champion “Rocket” Ronnie O’Sullivan and defending champion Mark Selby went out.

Ding showed little sign of the favorite’s tag handicapping him as he surged into a 8-0 lead, including two century breaks, in the first session but Scotsman McGill saved face by squaring the second of their eight frame sessions.

Unless he suffers an astonishing collapse, Ding will play Englishman Barry Hawkins in the last eight.

Hawkins beat Ding on his way to a surprise appearance in the 2013 world final where he lost to O’Sullivan but since then the 39-year-old has shown that was no fluke by reaching the last four on three occasions.

Ding lost to Selby both in the 2016 final and last year’s semifinals and he could face serious competition for the title from another Scottish cuesman, John Higgins, who is in sparkling form.

The 42-year-old quadruple world champion, who lost in last year’s final, demolished Englishman Jack Lisowski 13-1. That was no mean feat given Lisowski, who only just avoided becoming the second player in the tournament’s history to fail to win a frame, had ousted 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham in the first round.

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