Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Ding sees off Higgins to become UK snooker champion

China's Ding Junhui celebrates as he lifts The Pukka-Pies UK Championship Trophy beating Scotland's John Higgins 10-8 at Telford International Centre
China's Ding Junhui celebrates with his mother Chen XiJuan as he lifts the Trophy after beating Scotland's John Higgins 10-8 during the Pukka Pies UK Championship Final at Telford International Centre
UK Championship winner Ding Junhui

Ding Junhui won the Pukka Pies UK Championship final after a late-night thriller with world champion John Higgins last night.

The Chinese star held his nerve to win the decider by 10 frames to eight in Telford in a final that was nip and tuck throughout the day.

They shared the opening eight frames during a marathon opening session with Higgins, bidding to lift the title for the third time, showing his resilience in coming from a frame behind on four occasions in a session which lasted more than three and a half hours.

The play was generally of a high standard with six of the frames containing a half century.

Ding, who became the first Asian player to win four ranking titles, was quickly into his stride and won the opening frame with a break of 81.

Ding responded with an excellent break of 44 to edge in front again but Higgins ensured he went into the evening session all square with a fine break of 80.

And it was just as close in that session with the players locked at six frames apiece.

Higgins took the lead for the first time in the match in a scrappy 13th frame but Ding hit back immediately in the next to bring the scores level yet again.

The turning point came in the 15th frame, which was in the balance on the last red.

With Higgins leading 46-34. he fluked a red out of a snooker but then missed an easy brown and left it on and Ding promptly cleared up.

It was a similar story in the next as Higgins opened a 49 point lead, but missed a red opening the door again for Ding to go 9-7 up with three to play.

Higgins, in typical gritty fashion, held his nerve to hammer in a long red to set him on the way to a 115 break and reduce the deficit yet again.

However, another mistake by the Wizard of Wishaw was one too many in the crucial 18th frame, opening up with a 27 break before messing up.

Ding took full advantage to build up a healthy lead, leaving the Scotsman needing snookers, and after a spell of safety play, it was the Chinese star who held his nerve to pot the vital ball and clinch the title.

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