Ding lives Chinese Dream in Shanghai

23:56:00 Ramona Dragomir 0 Comments

Ding Junhui - the 2013 Shanghai Masters champion
It was with a scoreline of 10-6 that China's best Ding Junhui beat fellow countryman, Xiao Guodong in the final of this year's Shanghai Masters, thus putting an end to a terrible "curse" of failing to impress in his native country.

2005 was the year when Ding was crowned champion in Beijing, by beating Stephen Hendry 9-5 to lift the China Open trophy and since then China's best exports (snooker related, of course) has struggled to find his form when playing at home.

But all that is history now, after Ding managed to beat the local prodigy Xiao Guodong in what was not the most exciting, but surely an all-Chinese Shanghai Masters final.

The beginning of the final saw a pretty determined Ding flying high at 2-0 up, but an also determined Xiao catching up with his opponent as soon as possible.

One more time, Ding put his nose in front and as before, Xiao came to get it and turn the scoreline into a perfect draw of three apiece.

Xiao Guodong - the 2013 Shanghai Masters runner-up
Still, the first session was going to see Ding in change of the match's faith at 6-3 after one hell of a battle on the last red.*Mind you that the first session seemed endless ... and until the end, it was ... well, endless.

The cue battle re-started after a short break (they took most of the morning to finish their first encounter), but this time the 24-year-old seemed determined to perform a complete comeback.

A break of 78 opened the road towards success, but unfortunately an early miss at just 11 points during the second frame, meant that his turn at the table was coming to an end.

Ding stormed in and with runs of 58, 78 (it was something like "In your face!") and 81 he won no less than three consecutive frames to go just one away from victory, at 9-4.

It all seemed that the final was going to end during the next frame, but brother Guodong had other thoughts - great thoughts of fighting back.

The lads and the flowers
And so frame 14 became the most dramatic of them all, as Xiao missed a blue on 46, followed by Ding missing a pink, then Xiao missed a red and back to Ding missing the black. It was insane! But that's pressure for you ... and also the eagerness to win.
In the end though it was the qualifier who packed a break of 40 to win the frame, thus trailing 9-5.

Runs of 40 and 45 were keeping the hopes alive for Xiao, as the 15th frame came to an end, followed by another 45 in the next frame.

But here's where things got messy and Ding ended the business with an unquestioned 71 break, for a glorious 10-6 final scoreline.

It's been a while since he won in China and we all knew what it meant for him, even his opponent gave him a hug, followed by sincere congratulations from the ref in charge, Eirian Williams.

The trophy
So, after going through the qualifying stages, Xiao Guodong defeated wildcard Yuan Sijun (5-0), the mighty Scottish Stephen Maguire (5-2), followed by Peter Lines (5-3), Mark Davis (5-4) and Michael Holt in the semis, by 6-3. It's a huge achievement for the Chinese star and it surely give him an even bigger impulse to carry on winning.

But back to our champion, Ding Junhui collected not just a cheque of £80,000 but also something more valuable, his seventh major ranking title. And it also broke the curse of not performing well when playing at home if we take a look at who's beaten to get into the final: David Gilbert (5-2), Shaun Murphy (5-4), Neil Robertson (5-2) and Barry Hawkins (6-2).

The presentation party and the entire ceremony seemed just a bit short this time, but it was all worth it to see Ding smile when receiving the glassy trophy. I guess it's always important for a player to win at home, like when Ken Doherty wanted to win in Australia (since his wife is Australian an all that). Whaaat? What do you mean it doesn't make any sense?

*Important note: please bear in mind the fact that I wrote this piece after returning from a "Zorbing" session. If you don’t know what Zorbing is, please click here. Also here's a picture of me inside the Zorbing ball (well, it isn't actually me, it's the bloke that rolled over the hill just before I do, but I couldn't take a photo of myself in the ball, while I was standing outside could I?).

Needless to say that I feel like all my organs have been re-arranged and my brains are in pieces. I have the strange feeling I won't be doing great at work, tomorrow.

Anyway, my sincere congratulations to both Ding and Xiao. Job well done, lads! 
Over and out!