Congratulations to China’s Ding Junhui who has tonight defeated world number one Mark Selby 9-6 to win the Welsh Open title for the first time. His fifth ranking event success in total, the win sees him rise to seventh in the rankings at the crucial World Championship cut-off…
Ding Junhui 9-6 Mark Selby
1-136 (103), 71-8 (64), 0-124 (124), 64-61, 66-40, 90-0 (90), 0-91 (66), 64-29 (51), 14-80 (73), 84-2 (83), 34-91 (91), 124-3 (124), 130-0 (130), 0-145 (145), 74-11
A high-quality match throughout, it was Mark Selby who made the brighter start with breaks of 103 and 124 either side of a 64 from Ding seeing him into a 2-1 lead, before what would prove to be the first key turning point in the match during the fourth frame.
Following chances for both, it looked like the frame would go to Selby as Ding missed a tricky final pink with the rest, leaving it in the jaws at the Leicester man’s mercy. Though he could pot the pink however, he still needed the black and as he missed it to the far jaw, a relieved Ding was soon able to cut it in to draw level at the mid-session interval.
Having kept himself in touch, it was Ding who came out stronger, adding the next two frames to lead 4-2, before the next two frames were shared to leave the scoreline at 5-3 heading into the final session.
As the action resumed before an enthusiastic Welsh crowd, it was Selby who made the stronger start, capitalising on a missed brown off the spot from Ding to bring himself back within a frame, only for a poor safety in the next to let Ding in with 83 of his own to lead 6-4.
The high standard continued over the next two frames as Mark once again closed to just one frame behind with a run of 91, before a surprise miss to the green pocket from the world number one allowed Ding in to win the frame with a magnificent break of 124.
As the action resumed after the final mid-session interval, Ding forged three clear at 8-5 with his second successive century, this time of 130, to leave him one away from victory.
Selby though had won this title from 8-5 down once already and he gave his supporters encouragement by taking the next frame with a magnificent total clearance of 145, the highest of the week and enough to deny Matthew Stevens the high break prize of £1,000.
The fairytale comeback for Mark was not to go any further however as Ding wrapped up the match in the 15th frame to secure his first Welsh Open title and his first ranking event title since the 2009 UK Championship. With a terrific display of both break-building and safety play, Ding again reinforced the fact that he is one of the most complete players in the current field and surely, a genuine contender for a first world title at the Crucible this April.
In terms of his ranking, the result sees him move up to seventh place at the World Championship seedings revision, seeing him switch position with Stephen Maguire in the draw and moving into the bottom quarter with Mark Allen, Matthew Stevens and Mark Selby.
As for Selby, he consolidates his position as world number one, but having now lost five of his seven ranking event finals to date, he will be disappointed to again go home with second prize from Newport. That said, it is probably fair to say that he was able to reach the final without ever hitting peak form which is an impressive feat in itself. Overall then, it has been a positive week for Mark as we approach the business end of the season.
With the seedings now determined for the World Championship, the potential last 16 draw based on the current ranking list now looks as follows:
Higgins (1) v Bingham (16)
Dott (9) v Maguire (8)
Murphy (5) v Lee (12)
Carter (13) v Trump (4)
Williams (3) v O’Sullivan (14)
Gould (11) v N.Robertson (6)
Ding (7) v Allen (10)
Stevens (15) v Selby (2)
Furthermore, as outlined earlier in the day, I have updated the latest projected seedings page with the new end of season projected list which you can view here.
Next up – the China Open qualifiers from Sheffield which start this Tuesday. Click here to view the draw.