Ding Junhui kept his incredible season going by beating Judd Trump 9-5 in the final of the German Masters in Berlin.
China’s 26-year-old Ding won his fourth ranking title of the campaign, a feat not achieved since Stephen Hendry won five during the 1990/91 season. In fact Ding has won four of the last five, having landed the Shanghai Masters, Indian Open and International Championship, his only blip coming at the UK Championship where he lost to Ricky Walden in the last 16.
Ding has now won a total of ten ranking events, putting him ahead of Neil Robertson, Peter Ebdon and John Parrott on the all-time list and level with Jimmy White. Only Stephen Hendry (36), Steve Davis (28), Ronnie O’Sullivan (25), John Higgins (25) and Mark Williams (18) have won more.
Trump, who was playing in his first ranking final since winning the 2012 International Championship, looked favourite when he led 4-2 in the early stages, but after losing a pivotal seventh frame, he could do little as Ding produced a dazzling spell of break-building, scoring 460 points without reply. By the time Trump recovered from the onslaught, it was too late.
Ding’s phenomenal scoring power, solid tactical game and coolness under pressure have been his hallmarks this season as he seeks to build a legacy as one of the snooker’s greats. The World Championship remains the only major title he has yet to capture and it will be fascinating to see how he deals with that challenge in his adopted home city of Sheffield in the Spring.
Trump, whose runner-up prize was 35,000 Euros, played brilliant snooker to reach the final, conceding just four frames in five matches. He could not reproduce that form today, but after a long absence from the limelight, the 24-year-old Bristolian will be encouraged to see his game heading in the right direction.
A fantastic crowd of over 2,000 at the Tempodrom, widely recognised as one of the best venues on the circuit, were treated to an enthralling battle between two of the sport’s brightest young talents.
Tied at 4-4 after this afternoon’s play, Ding made an incredible start to the evening session, firing in breaks of 125, 101 and 72 to surge 7-4 ahead.
Trump ended Ding’s long sequence of unanswered points with a run of 38 in the next, and had chances to win the frame, but crucially missed a black off its spot and later played a poor safety with two reds left when leading 48-23. Ding made a clinical 39 clearance to stand four up with five to play at the mid-session interval.
In frame 13, Trump built a 48-8 lead, then Ding had a slim chance to clear but missed the brown with one red left. He then failed to escape from a snooker and left a free ball, allowing Trump to close to 8-5.
Ding led 47-8 in the next when he missed a mid-range red to a baulk corner. Trump had an opportunity to clear, but after potting a difficult last red to a centre pocket, he missed the blue to the opposite centre. That proved his last shot as Ding executed fine pots on yellow, green and brown and added the blue and pink to seal the title.
“It was a very difficult final,” said Ding. “At 4-2 I thought Judd would keep getting away from me. He started missing a few then I got back to 4-4. I had a nice rest in between sessions and then tonight I had a lot more confidence. Judd had pressure on him and he lost focus. I had a chance to win 9-4, but when I missed it I wasn’t worried and I just tried to win the next frame.
“I just hope I can keep this form going for the rest of the season. I am working well in practice. I can’t do well in every tournament, I would like to win all of them but it’s not possible so I have to decide which ones to play in. I’m not sure yet of my schedule for the rest of the season.”
Trump said: “I had chances to go 5-2 and I probably should have been ahead after the first session. Tonight my long potting wasn’t good and I wasn’t controlling the white ball well enough, I kept putting side on it. Ding is having a terrific season and I can’t complain because he played so well.
“I’m pleased to have got into a final again and I enjoyed the atmosphere. I hope this is just the start for me. It’s the Welsh Open soon and I always enjoy that one, then the World Championship is only a couple of months away.”