LONDON: Chinese snooker superstar Ding Junhui’s dreams of becoming the first Asian player to win the world title looks doomed for another year as he trails English opponent Barry Hawkins 11-5 in his quarter-final.
Ding, 31, looked far off the player who had been made the favourite to be crowned world champion after the first round exit of defending champion Mark Selby and then the second round departure of the five-time champion ‘Rocket’ Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Hawkins, who beat Ding in 2013 on the way to a surprise appearance in the final where he lost to O’Sullivan, dominated from the first session rattling in four breaks of over 50 to take a 5-3 lead.
Another three half centuries followed as he opened up a five frame advantage.
Ding, who lost to Selby in the 2016 final, will have to up his game having looked far from the player who thrashed Scotsman Anthony McGill 13-4 in the previous round.
He briefly fired up with a break of 102 and then a frame winning 52 to pull back to 8-5 before 39-year-old Hawkins won the final three frames of their session.
Hawkins left the best to last rounding off proceedings with a break of 113 leaving him two frames shy of a fourth semi-final appearance in the past five editions.
Hawkins compatriot Kyren Wilson is in a similar position leading Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen 11-5 after some dynamic potting.
Wilson won seven of the second session’s eight frames to leave Allen shell-shocked and the Englishman in sight of avenging his loss to the same player in January’s Masters final.
Scotland’s John Higgins and Mark Williams of Wales, the two remaining former world champions in the draw, had to battle hard in their respective first sessions.
Quadruple champion Higgins, the beaten finalist last year, trails Judd Trump 5-3 in a repeat of the 2011 final which the Scotsman won.
Two-time champion Williams, who pledged to appear naked at the press conference if he goes on to reach the final, is level 4-4 with Ali Carter, who ousted O’Sullivan.—AFP