Ding Juhhui today became the first player in 10 years to win back to back ranking titles,when he proved too strong for the Aditya Mehta,beating the local favourite 5-0 to add the inaugural Indian Open title to last months Shanghai Masters,but for once the winner is only part of the story after a week that we could very well be looking back on in years to come as a pivotal moment in the games global expansion.
More of that later,but firstly lets talk about our champion. Last month Ding finally got the victory China he had been craving and the question was would he kick on and really make his mark this season?Well since then he has been runner up in the Ruhr Open to Mark Allen and again played some fabulous snooker this week beating,among others,the other form player Neil Robertson on his way to the final here.
In the final itself he was at his ruthless break building self as he quickly snuffed out any hopes of a home victory. The fact that is in indeed 10 years since someone did win back to back ranking titles shows just how well the Chinese is playing at the moment.He has always been an exceptional talent,having already won both Masters and UK titles,but you get the feeling now that he is just moving up to another level and can really challenge for the big one next May.
As I've said though Ding is only part of the story and in many ways how appropriately that he is,as it was his run to the title in the China Open that turned a then general interest into a national obsession with the sport.For Ding Junhui then,read Aditya Mehta no,as he enjoyed the week of his life to become the first Indian player to reach a ranking final.
To say this was a dream run is in no way overstating it,as along the way he beat former World Champions Peter Ebdon and Mark Williams,former UK champion Stephen Maguire and fellow Indian professional Padkaj Advani (who also had enjoyed something of a week himself reaching QF beating Mark Allen).
The final proved to be a step to far,but this is a week Mehta will never forget and he has proven.maybe as much to himself as anything else,that he can mix it with the big boys.Hopefully now both he and Advani can use the experience they've gained this week to really establish themselves as contenders for tournaments in the future.The sport in India certainly couldn't have two finer ambassadors.
As for the tournament itself,it can only be described as a marvelous success.Maybe I missed it but I don't remember any players complaining about the playing conditions,which is a rarity these days and it seemed to be played in front of practically full houses all week.I dare say we will be seeing the tour return to India in the near future.
Anyway onward we go with the Senior World Championship this weekend,Asian Tour event 3 next week followed by The international Championship in Chengdu starting next weekend where Judd Trump will be the defending champion and Ding will be looking for his third ranking title on the spin.