Ding stops Selby, O'Sullivan soars

Local favorite Ding Junhui fended off a late rally from world No. 1 Mark Selby, winning 6-5 late last night to storm into the semifinals of the 2018 Shanghai Masters.

England’s Ronnie ‘The Rocket’ O’Sullivan in action against compatriot Stuart Bingham during their quarterfinal at the Shanghai Masters yesterday. O’Sullivan won 6-2 to set up a semifinal clash with another Englishman, Kyren Wilson. Wilson edged past Ryan Day of Wales 6-5.

Local favorite Ding Junhui fended off a late rally from world No. 1 Mark Selby, winning 6-5 late last night to storm into the semifinals of the 2018 Shanghai Masters.

As expected, the focus clash of the quarterfinals was a tight one with the two rivals each winning two out of the opening four frames. Ding managed a break of 101 in the fifth frame and continued in the same vein to grab a 4-2 lead. But the Englishman was not going to go away so easily as Selby pulled one frame back.

Ding again increased his lead to two frames by taking the eighth and putting Selby on the brink. Undeterred Selby roared back to take two frames, forcing the match into the decider, which Ding won 99-30.

Ding just became a new father last month. The 31-year-old said the birth of his daughter has given him new motivation in his career. “I am very happy about my new role. I’ve been away from home for a while and I miss my daughter very much.”

As the only Chinese player to advance to the last eight, the 6th-ranked Ding said he is happy to promote the development of China’s snooker with his influence. “Even if I retire one day, I still hope to make my contribution. Currently, international events take up most of my time, which leaves me with few opportunities to help some young hard-working Chinese players who want to go higher in the world rankings.”

Ding’s semifinal opponent will be another Englishman, Barry Hawkins, who outlasted Welshman Mark Williams 6-4 in the second night quarterfinal.

In the afternoon session, Ronnie ‘The Rocket’ O’Sullivan eased past fellow Englishman Stuart Bingham 6-2, while Kyren Wilson, also of England, edged Wales’ Ryan Day 6-5.

Facing the defending champion, Bingham won the first frame with a one-point advantage (52-51). He took the initiative in the second frame but committed faults and allowed O’Sullivan to catch up. O’Sullivan found the form faster than his opponent, controlling the next three frames for a 4-1 lead in the best-of-11 clash.

Bingham pulled one frame back with a break of 134 before O’Sullivan answered with a break of 140 in the next frame to put his opponent on the brink. There was not much suspense left in the match as ‘the Rocket’ took the eighth frame 73-41 and secured a spot in the semifinals where he will take on Wilson.

It was O’Sullivan’s first tournament of the new season. He beat Australian Neil Robertson 6-3 in the previous round just 17 hours before his quarterfinal against Bingham. “When you haven’t played a match for four months you lose the feeling of when to go for a shot and when not to,” said O’Sullivan. “He (Robertson) was the first good player I have played in four months. You need to adjust a bit.”

The defending champion is pleased with the new format of the Shanghai tournament which has 24 entries this year compared to the previous 64.

“All players want to play in top-level competitions like this one, because all participants are world class, and everyone wants to show his best side. When there are too many entries in one tournament, some players can lose form,” said O’Sullivan, who arrived in Shanghai a week before the tournament started.

Apart from watching a mixed martial arts competition, O’Sullivan also became the tutor of Chinese amateur Pu Qingsong. Pu was the champion at the national Amateur Masters, which earned him a wildcard to the Shanghai tournament. He lost 4-6 to Scotland’s Stephen Maguire in the first round.

“Losing to Maguire with a score of 4-6 is already a satisfying result,” O’Sullivan said of his student. “Pu is already a good player. I just helped him to adjust some skill details (during the one-hour teaching). He will grow by continuing playing and gaining experience.”

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