Ding Junhui's remarkable season continued today in Beijing as he beat Neil Robertson 10-5 to claim the 2014 China Open title and with it equal Stephen Hendry's record of five ranking titles in a single season.
The feeling coming into this one was that the start was probably more important to Robertson than Ding as coming after a week where the Aussie had come through illness and some tough matches,it was questionable if he would have enough in the tank to raise it again if he fell behind. With that in mind,the match couldn't have started worse for him as Ding came out of the blocks fast with breaks of 87 & 61 helping him go 3-0 up.
Robertson won the next to but Ding again asserted to win the next three to lead 6-1.Robertson did at least manage to win the eighth frame with a 102 break to move his seasons total to 93 and keep alive his hopes of the century of centuries,but Ding also took the last of the session to lead 7-2.
Robertson took the opening frame of the night to make it 7-3 ,but a 104 quickly established Dings five frame lead,before the next two were shared leaving the Chinese on the brink at the interval leading 9-4.Robertson won the first after the interval,but Ding was not to be denied taking the next to claim the title 10-5.
Where do you start when summing up this achievement by Ding. Last season when we had 10 different winners of the seasons ranking titles the word was that in this modern era we would never see a time where one player dominated again.I think that theory has been well and truly blown out of the water by this season.
What is perhaps even more impressive about this run by Ding is that for so many seasons the pressure of playing in China seemed to strangle him,to the point we wondered if he he would ever give his home fans the victories they craved. Well three ranking titles on home soil this season have put that fear to bed.
So one more tournament remains of this 2013/14 season and its the big at the Crucible in two weeks. It seems strange that a man who has won five ranking titles wont be going there as a heavy favourite for the title,but that says more about the way Ronnie O'Sullivan has blown everyone away the last two years than anything else.That said these two are in the same half of the draw and so could meet in the semi finals.If there is to be any slip from Ronnie,Ding could very well be the one to capitalize on it.