Ding Junhui produced world class snooker to recover from 4-2 behind to beat Judd Trump 9-5 to claim the German Masters in Berlin.
The win was the fourth ranking title in five events for Ding and keeps him on course to break Stephen Hendry’s record of five ranking titles won in the 1990-1991 season. It also marked the tenth career ranking title for the Chinese number one which now draws him joint sixth with Jimmy White on the all-time list. Having won the UK Championship in 2005 and 2009 and having claimed the Masters in 2011, the World Championship is the only title that Ding is missing from snooker’s Triple Crown. The 26 year old alluded to ‘more records’ in his post-match interview and none would doubt that he has the potential to achieve legendary status.
World number one and two, Neil Robertson and Mark Selby, had suffered surprise exits early on in the tournament but the obvious depth of talent growing in world snooker in the last year ensured quality play and entertainment throughout the German tournament. A fast-paced and highly competitive final was expected and the arena was full to capacity with a crowd of 2,000 lively, and highly respectful, enthusiasts as snooker has become very popular in Germany.
World number four Trump took the match by the scruff of the neck, racing into a 4-2 lead. But world number three Ding managed to claw his way back to level at 4-4 after some missed opportunities on the part of the Englishman at the end of the first session.
The evening session, however, was all about Ding as his continued to capitalise upon missed long pots by Trump and even reeled off 460 points without reply. It became a superb hammering. In the 13th frame Ding became a little bit nervous giving away a free ball, having been snookered on a red and subsequently fouling on the yellow, to allow Trump to claim his only frame of the evening session. Ding completed the beating in style, potting awkward balls from yellow to pink, to the delight of the crowd who gave a standing ovation with prolonged applause for the two outstanding players of the week.
Throughout the tournament Trump had been in superb form, having dropped only four frames in five matches. He showed exceptional form in the semi-final where he rattled off three century breaks with ease, speed, fluidity and even showcasing impressive ambidextrousness when needed. The safety play of the 24 year old has drastically improved since he burst onto the professional snooker scene in 2005. To add to his natural talent, he has worked hard to become a more complete player and this week will have given him a lot of confidence in the run-up to the World Championship at the Crucible in April.
The next ranking event takes place in Gdynia, Poland, from February 5th to 9th, where Neil Robertson is the defending champion.
Pundit Arena, Tina McCarthy