Chinese snooker sensation and former UK champion Ding Junhui has moved into a 5 frames to 3 lead over the English professional Mark Selby in the final of the snooker ranking tournament, the Welsh Open (sponsored by 888真人
). The winner will be the first player to win nine frames (it is a best-of-seventeen frame match).
To reach the final both players enjoyed relatively comfortable wins over experienced opponents, with Ding beating former world champion Shaun Murphy 6-2, whilst Selby defeated three-times world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan by the same score line (as reported earlier on the Digital Journal
In terms of form, Ding Junhui (aged 24) has won four ranking events and Mark Selby (aged 28) has won two. Before the final, Ding Junhui was the slight favorite with the gambling community, having odds
of 6/5 on with Selby placed at 8/13 against. However, it was Selby who dominated the first game, compiling a century break of 103. Although Ding took the next frame with a run of 64, Selby knocked in a second century break, running out 124 without Ding potting a ball.
However, from 1-2 down, Ding went 4-2 ahead. The fourth and fifth frames were tightly contested, with the fourth going down to the final black (World Snooker's
match report describes these two frames as scrappy affairs and not indicative of the overall high quality of the play). In the sixth frame, Ding compiled a break of 90 and was unlucky not to convert this into a century.
Having lost three successive frames, Selby responded with a fine break of 66 and won the frame to nil (91-0) before Ding took a tactical final frame of the session to lead 5-3 at the mid-session break.
The Welsh Open is an established event on the snooker calendar (it was first staged in 1992). Both Stephen Hendry (the seven times world champion) and John Higgins )the current world champion) have won the event three times. However, both fell in the early rounds (Higgins was beaten 4-3 by Ding Junhui in the last-16).
The final resumes at 7 p.m. (GMT). The match referee is Terry Camilleri. The highest break of the tournament is currently held by the Welsh player Matthew Stevens, who compiled a 141.
The frame scores, courtesy of the BBC
, at the half-way stage are (Ding first):
1-136 (103), 71-8 (64), 0-124 (124), 64-61, 66-40, 90-0 (90), 0-91 (66), 64-29 (51)