Ding Junhui endured a tough time at his opening match at the 2007 World Snooker China Open yesterday in
Beijing, before claiming victory 5-3 against Adrian Gunnell.
The 19-year-old snooker whizkid, sporting new reddish highlights
in his hair, reached the last 32 but Gunnell put up a tough
Though racking up strong breaks of 82, 97 and 130 to storm into
a 3-1 lead, Ding did not keep up his streak after the interval and
made several unforced errors, allowing Gunnell to close at 4-3.
Ding eventually sealed victory and will face Barry Hawkins, but
his Chinese fans will appreciate that rapid improvement will be
needed if Ding is to repeat his famous win here in 2005 when he
beat Stephen Hendry in the final.
In other qualifiers, Jimmy White secured his professional status
for next season, after beating Zheng Peng 5-2.
The Whirlwind was to face Stephen Lee in the next round but
Lee's withdrawal sees White receive a bye into the last 16 -- the
first time he has reached that stage of a ranking event since the
2005 Grand Prix.
From 2-1 down, the former UK and Masters champion came back
strong to take four consecutive frames with a top break of 61.
"I nicked the first frame on the colors, otherwise it could have
been different," admitted the 44-year-old Londoner, who has so
failed to reach the knock-out stages of the season's other six
"At my age you can play well one day, then badly the next. I've
got three days now to practice at the hotel and make sure I play
well on Thursday. I still love this game and I'll keep playing as
long as I enjoy it."
Ding's compatriots also performed well with Liu Chuang, a
16-year-old from Liaoning Province, setting up a dream
encounter with his hero Ronnie O'Sullivan by edging out Andy Hicks
Joe Jogia lost 5-1 to Yu Delu, a 19-year-old from Shanxi Province who made strong breaks of 69
Wins for five of the eight wild cards see a field of six Chinese
players in the last 32.
(China Daily via worldsnooker.com, March 27, 2007)