Ding Masters Shanghai With Xiao Victory

Eight years after his breakthrough victory in Beijing, Ding Junhui has won his second full-ranking event title in his homeland China with a 10-6 victory against compatriot Xiao Guodong this afternoon.

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Heading into today’s final as a warm favourite, arguably the biggest challenge for Ding Junhui would be as to how he would handle the pressure of competing in another final in front of his home crowd, something that he has arguably struggled with in recent years.

Today however, the Chinese number one made a strong start, heading 2-0 up with a break of 83, before Xiao Guodong to hit back to level at 3-3 with runs of 62, 67 and 52.

From there however it was Ding who would assert himself upon the final, an excellent 126 starting a three frame winning streak which would see him finish the session with a 6-3 lead.

It was important for Xiao to make a strong start to the evening session and he duly delivered with a break of 78 to close the gap, but that would only prove the precursor to another three-frame burst from Ding, who hit runs of 58, 78 and 81 to move one away from the title at 9-4.

To his credit, Xiao never gave up and won the first two frames on the resumption of play to apply a little pressure, but the damage had already been done and Ding secured victory in the next with a clearance of 71.

His second major triumph of 2013 following his victory at the PTC Grand Finals back in March, the result underlines Ding’s status as one of the best players in the world and secures him the top prize of £80,000, together with 7,000 ranking points to go with it.

He might not always be the most consistent player and he might still have matches where he visibly does not look to be there, but when he is on fire, as he has looked from the start this week, there are few better in the game.

For too long though, Ding has been the sole flag bearer for China at the top of the game and it is therefore refreshing to see Chinese number two Xiao Guodong making a breakthrough to the final this week.

Although he missed a few too many key balls in the middle part of the final today, his run sees him climb up into the top 32 of the rankings for the first time and will no doubt he will have taken a great deal of experience from the week going forward.

Looking back at the tournament as a whole, other notable runs were those from Michael Holt and Kyren Wilson, whose semi-final and quarter-final runs respectively were career-best showings for the Englishmen.

Mark Davis was another who starred in the early rounds, fresh off the back of his title runs at the General Cup and six red tournaments, but he could not convert that into that elusive first ranking event title as he fell to Xiao in the last eight.

Next up comes the AT2 event which starts tomorrow, more information on which you can find here.