/ Snooker

Ding Junhui and Ronnie O'Sullivan to square-up in Welsh final

Updated: Saturday, 01 Mar 2014 23:18 | Comments

Ding Junhui on track for second Welsh title in three years
Ding Junhui on track for second Welsh title in three years

Reigning world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan set up a Welsh Open final against Ding Junhui after seeing off Barry Hawkins on Saturday night.

The 38-year-old, who stormed through the quarter-finals with a clinical 5-1 demolition of John Higgins on Friday afternoon, won the best-of-11 semi-final 6-2 against 'The Hawk'.

Hawkins took the first frame with an impressive 102 break before the Rocket hit back to take the next five, the second of which was with a break of 114 and he recorded an even better break of 124 in the fifth frame.

The sixth was as close as they come with O'Sullivan just edging his opponent 65 points to 64 before Hawkins won the next with a break of 67 to make it 5-2.

But five-time world champion O'Sullivan made it through to Sunday's final with a break of 103 in the eighth frame at Newport Centre.

O'Sullivan will now take on Ding - someone he believes is the leading player on the planet at present.

World number three Ding progressed through with a 6-4 victory over Joe Perry as he remained on track for his second Welsh Open title in three years and his fifth ranking title of the season - a feat that would equal the record of five set by Stephen Hendry in the 1990-91 season.

O'Sullivan said on www.worldsnooker.com: "Ding is the in-form player. If he wins this he will equal the record for ranking titles in a season. People talk about records but that record is worth having. You are a winner if you do that sort of stuff.

"For me it is a fantastic opportunity to see where I am at against probably the best player in the world on current form. I am just happy and enjoying my snooker.

"I am not getting too down on myself and trying to leave a legacy on the game. I probably would have won a lot more if I had found this sort of form earlier in my career, but it is better late than never."

Ding, who survived a big scare to defeat teenager Joel Walker 5-4 in the quarter-finals, managed to hold on after Perry looked like he could stage a fightback.

The 26-year-old was trailing to his English opponent after losing the first frame but he then won the next three - the second with a break of 114 - to take control of the match.

However, Perry went on to win the next two frames to make it 3-3 and keep alive his hopes of making the final.

Ding won the seventh with a break of 88 and also took the next frame, but Perry, ranked 15th in the world, continued to fight and stayed in the match by winning the ninth with a 69 break and make it 5-4.

Perry could not get any closer though and Ding produced an impressive 118 to seal victory in the 10th frame and reach the final.

Ding was delighted to reach get through, but admitted he needs to work harder on Sunday.

He said: "I don't know what happened with my white ball control - it always causes me trouble.

"In the last frame the black was on the spot but I had to take the yellow or green because I lost position. I think I need to do better tomorrow.

"I am confident because I have won a lot of matches this season. I don't feel too much pressure when the scoreline is close - I can handle it."

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