He might have fallen to the unheralded James Cahill at the last 32 stage of the 2014 UK Championship yesterday, but after this tournament Ding Junhui will become world number one for the first time in his career, replacing Mark Selby at top spot.
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Following his loss to Cahill, the only man who could prevent Ding from moving up to number one was Neil Robertson, who would have moved above Ding with a run to the quarter-finals or beyond. It was not to be for the Australian however, as he fell to Graeme Dott in a dramatic last 16 match this evening, coming back from 5-0 down to force a decider, before the Scot eventually got over the line.
By moving up to number one, Ding becomes the first player from China, and indeed Asia, to do so since the creation of the world rankings in 1976, as well as only the 11th player ever to have done so overall in snooker’s history.
Ding joins an elite band of players including Ray Reardon, Cliff Thorburn, Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins, Mark Williams, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson and Judd Trump, while for Robertson he will have to wait a while longer if he is to add to his total of 63 weeks at number one.
While I am sure that Ding would have liked to have marked the moment with a better run than he has had this week and indeed so far this season, the result is a well deserved reward given his efforts last season in particular, which saw him claim five full-ranking event titles.
Due to the way that the rankings operate on a two-year rolling basis and with Robertson and Selby defending significantly more points during the first half of the season, Ding was always well-placed to claim top spot at some stage this season (I even got a prediction right for a change) and it will now be interesting to see how long he can remain there for.
Like Judd Trump, he is of course yet to combine his achievement of taking the top ranking with a world title, but no doubt has the talent to do so and will remain amongst snooker’s contenders for many seasons to come.