Ding keen to strike it rich

Ding keen to strike it rich

When the inaugural Indian Open, a pro-ranking snooker event, kicks off next Monday in New Delhi, China’s Ding Jinhui will start as one of the genuine contenders.

A winner of six ranking events, the incredibly talented 26-year-old has been creating a storm on the gruelling pro tour ever since he stepped foot in the United Kingdom a decade ago.

The youngest player ever to win three ranking titles and the only one other than four-time World Champion John Higgins to do so before celebrating his 20th birthday, Ding’s exploits has seen snooker grow exponentially in China.

Elated at making his second trip to India, Ding felt the event could mark the start of something big. “I enjoy travelling to the big events around the world. It is exciting to be going to a new country and I hope snooker can be successful in India.

“It’s great to see more and more Asian players doing well in our sport and I have been very impressed by the two Indians Pankaj Advani and Aditya Mehta. I have played in India once before, at the Asian under-21 Championship in Kolkata in 2002.

“I beat Pramual Janthad 6-2 in the final. I have never been to New Delhi and I’m really looking forward to going back to India.”

Although Ding, who had registered the maximum break of 147 five times in his career, hasn’t set the green baize on fire this season, he heads into the Indian Open with good confidence having triumphed in the Shanghai Masters last month. “It was very important for me to win a big ranking event in China. I didn’t feel any pressure before, but winning always gives me extra confidence.

“I'm happy with my game and I feel it is stronger now than it has been in the past. My shot selection is better, I know when to attack and when to defend. And my safety has improved a lot which helps me to create scoring chances,” added the Man United fan who resides in Sheffield with his girlfriend Apple.

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