Ding's worlds dream ended by Hawkins

AFP
Ding Junhui's bid to become the first Asian player to win the world title will have to wait a further year as England's Barry Hawkins outclassed the Chinese superstar 13-5.
AFP

Ding Junhui’s bid to become the first Asian player to win the world title will have to wait a further year as England’s Barry Hawkins outclassed the Chinese superstar 13-5 in the quarterfinal.

Ding, 31, looked far off the player who had been made the favorite to be crowned world champion after the first-round exit of defending champion Mark Selby and then the second-round departure of five-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, both of England.

Hawkins, who beat Ding in 2013 on the way to a surprise appearance in the final where he lost to O’Sullivan, led 11-5 overnight and clinically rounded off the victory taking the first two frames on offer at the Crucible in Sheffield yesterday.

Indeed the 39-year-old Englishman finished with a flourish with a superb break of 117 — his second century of the encounter — to earn himself a semifinal spot for the fourth time in the past five editions.

Hawkins, who faces either two-time champion Mark Williams or Ali Carter, said Ding, whose best performance at the worlds is losing to Selby in the 2016 final, had perhaps wilted under the weight of expectation back in China.

“I punished him every time he made a mistake and when someone is doing that against you, it is easy to miss a few,” said Hawkins. “I managed to keep him under pressure. And there is a lot of pressure on his shoulders, too.

“Winning 6-2 last night was huge and I am happy to get over the line. I felt like he gave up at the end.”

Hawkins’ compatriot Kyren Wilson is in a similar position leading Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen 11-5 after some dynamic potting.

Wilson won seven of the second session’s eight frames to leave Allen shell-shocked and the Englishman is in sight of avenging his loss to the same player in January’s Masters final.

Scot John Higgins and Williams of Wales, the two remaining former world champions in the draw, are locked in tough battles of their own.

Quadruple champion Higgins, the beaten finalist last year, trails England’s Judd Trump 6-7 in a repeat of the 2011 final which the Scot won.

Williams, who pledged to appear naked at the press conference if he goes on to reach the final, is level 4-4 with two-time finalist Ali Carter, who ousted compatriot O’Sullivan.

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