Ding Junhui boosted his hopes of winning the Betfred World Championship for the first time by beating Judd Trump 13-10 in an exciting last 16 clash.
Ding looked to be wobbling when Trump fought back from 12-7 down to 12-10, but China’s top player clinched victory in the 23rd frame to reach the last eight at the Crucible for the second consecutive year.
Ding has struggled for form for much of this season and dropped out of the top 16 when he lost in the first round of the China Open. But he has dealt with that setback admirably, breezing through three qualifying rounds for the loss of just seven frames, then beating Martin Gould and now Trump.
World number 17 Ding has never been past the semi-finals in Sheffield but will be confident of his chances now. The 29-year-old faces Mark Williams over 25 frames on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Ding led 10-6 going into the final session and made a break of 65 in the first frame today before missing a red to a centre pocket. Trump made a superb 70 clearance to steal the frame, but Ding then hit back with runs of 72 and 91 to go 12-7 ahead.
Golfer Danny Willett, the Masters champion, was in the arena to watch Trump v Ding
Bristol’s Trump, who was runner-up to John Higgins in 2011, fought back with breaks of 61, 56 and 88 to win the next three frames and close to 12-10. Both players had chances in a scrappy 23rd frame, but Ding eventually took it to secure victory.
“It got harder at the end and Judd played some very good shots,” said Ding, winner of 11 ranking titles, who is seeking to become the first Asian winner of the title. “It didn’t matter how well I played, I just had to win the frames.
“I think it helped to play in the qualifiers because my form came back a bit and it helped me get ready for the Crucible. If I can play 80 per cent or 90 per cent that is all I need. I can’t play 100 per cent, that’s impossible.
“Mark Williams has had some rest for tomorrow, I’ve just got to keep going. I just play my snooker, it doesn’t matter who I play. If you get chances to win frames you have to take them, it’s simple. I am looking forward to tomorrow.”
Trump said: “It’s a shame to think I was a fraction away from getting through to the next round. If I had won that frame to go 12-11 then I think I would have won the match.
“Overall, I didn’t play well, but in the first session I felt my best. Unfortunately he played well too, and he nicked a frame at 2-2 that changed the game.
“Even though it’s a long game, little moments like that have an influence and you’ve got to take your chances while you’re there.”
As for the tweets Trump sent during intervals as the match progressed, he added: “People try to pick faults. My tweet worked against Liang Wenbo when I came back, and this time I lost because Ding was the better player.
“I don’t want to drain myself thinking about the game and talking about the game, I like to switch off.”