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Ding Gets Advice from Snooker Champion
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Cue wizard Ronnie O'Sullivan has suggested Ding Junhui relax and enjoy playing snooker when the Chinese sensation sets his sights on greater heights in the British sport.

Home favorite Ding, who turns 20 on Sunday, barely said a word at the press conference held after he lost to Barry Hawkins in the first round of the China Open on Wednesday. "I am tired and I don't want to play any more," he said.

"Sometimes it's not about winning or losing, it's about enjoying every match you play," said O'Sullivan. "You need to take it easy and relax yourself on the tour. You don't play only one or two matches a year, you are supposed to play a number of them, so if you think too much about the result, you will be in trouble.

"I know Ding is in a tough situation it's like when Jimmy White plays in London, everybody expects you to win. It's very hard to concentrate on the ball for sure."

Having shown possible signs of a suspect temperament for the first time against O'Sullivan in the final of the Snooker Masters when he was almost in tears and attempted to walk off at 8-3 down, Ding made a first-round exit at both the Malta Cup and the Welsh Open, to Stephen Maguire and Jamie Cope.

"I have known Ding as well as his family ages ago in England," said O'Sullivan. "I was very sorry to see him sad when he lost the finals in a foreign country and fans' drastic words of the day were likely to upset him too."

O'Sullivan beat Marco Fu of Hong Kong 5-3 on Friday to register a semi-final clash with World Championships winner Graeme Dott, who cruised to a 5-2 win over fellow Scot John Higgins.

The world No 3 won three frames on the spin to overcome a 3-2 deficit, meaning he and Dott can now look forward to a repeat of last season's World Championship semi-final.

Dott was a 17-11 winner against O'Sullivan at the Crucible Theatre in April and his opponent expects a tough match when the pair lock horns again.

"It's not going to be easy, but if I play decent snooker, I should win," said O'Sullivan, who was disappointed with the way he performed on Friday.

"The standard of snooker must be quite poor because I'm playing poorly and still winning.

"It's strange, I'm winning and playing so poorly. I made some silly mistakes, but I'm used to playing poorly. I'm fed up with talking about how poorly I'm playing."

In Friday's other quarter-final match, Jamie Cope blanked Shaun Murphy 5-0.

The match between Ken Doherty and Barry Hawkins was still going on when the paper went to print.

(China Daily March 31, 2007)

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