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Ding Beats Hendry to Reach Masters Final
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China's Ding Junhui booked his place in the Masters final with a 6-2 victory over six-time winner Stephen Hendry at Wembley Arena at the wee hours of Sunday (Beijing Time).


After a slow start, the 19-year-old quickly found his form and, having led 3-1 at the interval, he finished the job with the loss of only one more frame to oust the Scot.


"I've not reached my best form yet, but I will try to play well in the final," said Ding, speaking through a translator.


"It's always very difficult to beat Stephen here. He always looks very comfortable. But I'm delighted to have won. I'm very happy. I want to play better, though."




Ding now faces either twice Masters winner Ronnie O'Sullivan or 2004 UK winner Stephen Maguire in early Monday's best-of-19 frame final (Beijing Time), having already knocked out Welsh Open champion Stephen Lee and UK Championship winner Peter Ebdon.


"The best compliment I can give him is that there's only two or three players where you don't think you'll get back to the table -- and he's consistently doing it," said Hendry.


"It was a good match to be involved in. If I can cut out the two or three errors, I'm feeling I'm still in the right direction.”


Great Challenge


"It's a great challenge for me to get my game back to compete with the likes of Ding," added Hendry.


"If Ding's going to keep playing like that, then he's going to be a top four player for the next 10-15 years. I can't see him going off the rails."


The talented teenager started in surprisingly slow fashion, but with breaks of 39 and 41 managed to edge the opening two frames of the match.


Back came Hendry, winner of the Masters on a record five successive occasions from 1989 to 1993.


A break of 56 saw the seven-time world champion reduce the arrears but, when it looked as if he would level the score, the 38-year-old Scot had a stroke of bad luck.


On a break of 42 and only needing a few more balls to square the match, Hendry tried to pot the green which somehow bounced out of the pocket. That allowed Ding to snatch the frame with a pressure 25 clearance to lead 3-1.


Hendry hit back immediately after the resumption of play with a superb 129 break, but it only spurred Ding on.


The Asian ace pocketed a 64 break, after Hendry missed a routine black on a break of 51, to make it 4-2.


Ding then turned on the style by compiling a splendid 128 break to make it 5-2 before a 61 clinched a deserved victory.





(CRI January 21, 2007 )



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