Welsh Open 2012: Ding and Selby To Contest Final

The final of the 2012 Welsh Open will be contested between 2008 Newport champion Mark Selby and Ding Junhui, looking for his first ranking event title since the 2009 UK Championship, after the pair both came through their semi-finals as 6-2 winners today…

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The first man through to the final was Ding Junhui as the former UK and Masters champion recorded a 6-2 win against 2006 finalist Shaun Murphy today.

While the match on paper appears to have been straight-forward, in truth it was a close affair, indeed in terms of balls potted and points scored it was Murphy who was ahead until the closing moments. It is frames won that count however and despite breaks of 126 and 90 seeing him just one behind at 2-3, Murphy could not make the most of his chances and some loose safety play was all that Ding needed to forge clear.

Despite defeat, Shaun has played well recently and by my count has earned more points from the full-ranking events this season than any player other than Mark Selby, no mean feat. It is Ding though who deservedly moves into his first Welsh Open final and on the evidence that I have seen this week, will be the favourite to go all the way.

Hoping to stop him however will be 2008 champion and world number one Mark Selby after the Leicester man ended the winning streak of Ronnie O’Sullivan with a 6-2 victory this evening.

With a little bit of pre-match needle between the pair heading into the match, their encounter proved to be full of tension from the off as chances were missed by both, Selby stealing a 2-1 lead following a surprising miss on the last red from Ronnie, before the German Masters champion took a close frame to draw level at the interval.

On the resumption of play the action continued to be nervy with misses from both, but it was the world number one who looked to be the more focused of the two and with the aid of a kind run of the ball, as well as some important pots under pressure, eventually won the last four frames for victory.

Through to his seventh career ranking event final without ever having looked to be on top form this week, Mark will be hoping to improve upon a strike rate which has seen him win just two of his previous seven showpiece matches.

Their recent meetings have proven evenly matched, Ding winning at the Crucible last year as well as at the 2010 China Open, while Selby defeated him on home soil at the Wuxi Classic and China Open in 2011. Mark also recorded wins against Ding at the German Masters last season and en route to his second Masters title at Wembley in 2010.

Who will win? If the match proves to be an open affair, I would fancy Ding to have the better of the scoring given their respective journeys to the final, though if it is to become a war of attrition, Mark would be hard to stop.

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