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Ding sets up sizzling encounter with 'the Rocket' in Sheffield

By Dominic Morgan | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-04-24 17:53


Ding sets up sizzling encounter with 'the Rocket' in Sheffield

Ding Junhui lines up a shot during his first round match against Zhou Yuelong at the World Snooker Championships in Sheffield, UK, on April 1, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

Chinese cue master Ding Junhui faces a firecracker of a quarterfinal against Ronnie "the Rocket" O'Sullivan on Tuesday as the Jiangsu province native continues his quest for a first World Snooker Championship title in Sheffield, UK.

Ding showed some impressive form on Saturday as he booked his place in the last eight, showing nerves of steel to come back from 12-11 down against compatriot Liang Wenbo to win a thrilling epic of a tie 13-12.

But if the world number four is to finally achieve his dream of becoming China's first ever world snooker champion, he will need to hit new heights of form in his clash against O'Sullivan.

The mercurial five-time champion is regarded by many as the most naturally gifted player of all time and is a personal hero of Ding, whom he has beaten in 10 of their 13 previous meetings.

"The Rocket" has been misfiring for much of the season and arrived in Sheffield ranked eight places below his Chinese opponent, but since the start of the tournament he has appeared laser-focused. The Englishman looked back to his best as he overcame former champion Shaun Murphy 13-7 in the second round.

Ding agrees that O'Sullivan will be the favorite going into the tie, but he is determined not to be intimidated by the 41-year-old's reputation.

"I have faced Ronnie in a few tournaments, but this time I want to show my best snooker. The reason I practise is because I want to play my best snooker against my heroes. I want to see how I can do, test myself and find out how good I am," said Ding.

Though he has not beaten O'Sullivan in a ranking event since 2006, many believe the Chinese star is better prepared to withstand "the Rocket" than ever before.

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