Ding Targets Welsh Defence
Snooker ace Ding Junhui believes Mark Selby is the man to beat as he looks ahead to the defence of his BetVictor Welsh Open title next week.
Ding got the better of Selby in last year’s final at the Newport Centre, winning 9-6 to claim his fifth ranking title. But while China’s top player has won just one Players Tour Championship event this season, Leicester’s Selby has been the sport’s dominant force in recent weeks, winning the UK Championship and the Masters.
“Mark is always very hard to beat because he never gives up and doesn’t make many mistakes,” said 25-year-old Ding. “In the final last year I had to try my hardest on every shot. Mark is the best player at the moment but I would be happy to play him again, it’s good to go up against the best.”
Ding has been a trail-blazer for snooker in Asia and there are now ten Chinese players on the main tour, though none of the others have won ranking titles. A new generation is now emerging, led by Lu Haotian, who last year became the youngest ever World Under-21 Champion at the age of 14, and Ding hopes that others can emulate his success.
“It’s good for them to come to the UK and start a new life, and see what they can do in snooker,” said the two-time UK Champion. “I hope they enjoy it and do well. But we shouldn’t push them too hard, they are still young. I remember when I first came here, it was difficult.”
Ding received support from Chinese fans in Newport last year and hopes he’ll get plenty of backing again this time. “It’s great to go to different places and see the Chinese fans supporting me,” he said. “It means a lot to me to that they come to the venues to watch me play and cheer me on.”Ding’s opening match gets the world ranking tournament underway, on Monday February 11 at 10.30am. The BBC Wales-televised event runs until the following Sunday, February 17.
Selby, Judd Trump, John Higgins and local favourites Mark Williams and Matthew Stevens will be among those battling for the £50,000 top prize.
TICKETS ARE STILL AVAILABLE and fans are advised to book their seats quickly. All-day tickets start at just £12 and fans can buy tickets for any three individual weekday sessions for just £20. To book call 01633 656 757 or visit www.worldsnooker.com/tickets
For a limited time, there is also an offer for students: half price tickets for all day sessions from Monday to Thursday. Simply quote STUDENT147 when booking (valid NUS card required upon entry to the arena).The full draw and format will be available after the completion of the qualifying rounds, which run from February 6-9.
The BetVictor Welsh Open is supported by Newport City Council.
Date: Thursday February 7, 2013
thanks to world snooker for the report and picture :Contact: Ivan Hirschowitz, World Snooker media office, 07766 656133