Mark Selby fights back to lead Ding Junhui in Semi-final

by Leon Thompson April 30, 2017, 1:26
Mark Selby fights back to lead Ding Junhui in Semi-final

Four-time victor John Higgins held the initiative in the other semi-final after having the better of a scrappy encounter with Barry Hawkins.

That was despite some serious pressure late in the match from O'Sullivan.

"After one of the frames, when I'd made an 80 or a 100 break, he looked at me and said, 'Ah, you're struggling with your game, are you?' It was nice of him to say that".

Ronnie O'Sullivan in action against Ding Junhui at the Crucible Theatre. "Let's not go down that route, let's just enjoy the match and wish Ding the very best". It's not good for me or my global reputation. "I have had the best year of my life and not been winning many tournaments", he said.

Ding then fired in breaks of breaks of 64, 65, 120, 59 and 56 to go 10-5 up before O'Sullivan responded with a typically brisk 104.

In the afternoon session, reigning champion Mark Selby moved closer to a place in the semi-finals after storming to a dominant 6-2 lead over Marco Fu in Sheffield.

Ding said, "I didn't know that the score was enough until people were clapping and I realised it was over".

Twenty years ago O'Sullivan pocketed £165,000 for a World Championship maximum that took just five minutes and 20 seconds, but this year his reward would have been a relatively modest £15,000, made up of a high-break prize of £10,000 and a £5,000 147 bonus.

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Ding edged the next via a tense respotted black after the frame had finished tied, but O'Sullivan restored parity with a run of 59.

"He s a special lad, a attractive guy, and I know his family really well so I know he comes from good stock", said O Sullivan.

A spirited O'Sullivan comeback before the mid-session break kept alive hopes of him claiming a sixth World Championship title.

The 30-year-old Chinese potter showed dogged determination in Friday night's third session of his semi-final at the Betfred World Championship to claw back a deficit to level at 12-12 against defending champion Mark Selby in their best-of-33 frames showdown.

There was no familiar threat of retirement nor any sense of disenchantment from O'Sullivan, who vowed to be back on tour next season.

I love him. He's such a lovely guy.

In the same way boxers collapse into each other's arms at the end and say, "you are a great player".

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