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Ssb - ding in the swing

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  • Ssb - ding in the swing

    After a long year of snooker, not every top player made the trip to Ravenscraig but Ding Junhui did and he left as the winner of European Tour event 5.

    Ding played with great purpose from his first match. He was fluent and determined and made seven centuries during the tournament.

    What a lovely player he is to watch in full flow. He is already, at 25, one of the best break-builders the game has ever seen.

    The mystery is why he is sometimes flat in matches. Ding stands 11th in the world rankings, lower than many would put him given a free choice.

    But he ends 2012 on a high with half of the season still to go.

    Much praise must go to the beaten finalist, Anthony McGill, who became snooker’s marathon man with something like nine hours of continuous play on Sunday.

    He was 3-0 and 51-0 down to Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon in the quarter-finals but recovered to win 4-3. He got the two snookers he needed in the deciding frame of the semi-finals against Andrew Higginson and won 4-3 on a red-spotted black to reach his first televised final.

    The key moment of the final in the end was his failure to get ideally on frame ball in the fifth. He left it awkward, missed and Ding made a great clearance before wrapping up a 4-2 win.

    There was a good crowd for the final but the event was otherwise poorly attended. It’s not abundantly clear why this tournament went to Scotland in the first place.

    The European Tour has done a very good job of taking tournaments to areas where interest in snooker is growing, with the ultimate goal to produce full ranking events.

    Scotland has already had many of these and some may have felt, particularly with the number of high profile stay-aways, that this was a retrograde step.

    It also came very quickly after the UK Championship, which felt like a natural break halfway through the season.

    However, there is a long tradition of tournaments after the UK Championship and before Christmas, be it the World Doubles, World Matchplay or German Masters. In 1998 there were three events after the UK Championship and before the New Year. Years ago the players would record Pot Black shortly after Christmas and the Mercantile Classic would often start on New Year’s Day.

    The Haikou World Open qualifiers are this week and then it all shuts down until January 4, after which it is basically no sleep until May Day.