China's Ding will face Hong Kong's Marco Fu over 19 frames at Wembley Arena on Sunday, in a match which highlights the gradual shift to the east of snooker's power base. The match is expected to attract massive television viewing figures globally, especially on CCTV5 in China, where the sport has enjoyed a leap in popularity over the last decade.
That leap has been driven by the success of Ding, who has won four ranking titles and will now bid for his first Masters crown. Victory for the 23-year-old would lay to rest the ghost of 2007, when he lost 10-3 to Ronnie O'Sullivan in the Wembley final and finished the match in tears.
Breaks of 42 and 68 gave Ding the first frame, then Stoke's Cope levelled with a 101. Runs of 54 and 102 put Ding 3-1 up at the interval.
Cope, making his debut in the Masters this year, should have won frame five but missed an easy red with the rest on 58. Ding cleared superbly with 65 to extend his lead. The Asian ace might have added the next but missed a tricky final brown to a centre pocket and Cope knocked it in for 4-2.
A break of 60 helped Ding to frame seven, and he opened the next with 53 before running out of position. Cope made an excellent 73 clearance to keep his hopes alive at 5-3, but Ding soon finished the job with 69 and 58 in frame nine.
"I'm very happy, I played well," said Ding. "I'm enjoying the game more than I was before."
Ding lost 4-2 to Fu in the final of the Asian Games in December, but hopes to gain revenge. "It wasn't my best performance at the Asian Games. I am playing better now and it should be a good final," he added. "It's the first time I have played another Chinese player in a (professional) final. It's special for China because it's such a big tournament. There will be pressure but I will just try to concentrate on the match.
"Marco and I had a joke in the press room earlier in the week, saying that we would meet in the final. Now it's real. When he won today it made me more determined."
Cope said: "I just missed a couple of balls I should have potted early on. I couldn't afford to do that because he was amazing. He didn't look like missing and he will be hard to stop in the final. It's a decent result for me to get to the semis."
Ladbrokes rate Ding 2/5 odds-on favourite for the final, with Fu 7/4 against.
New programme gets kids playing and helps them learn