Ding edges out Holt to advance

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SHEFFIELD-based Ding Junhui delighted the home crowd at the Haikou Open by beating Michael Holt in a final-frame decider to reach the second round.

The Chinese favourite led 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3 but was made to battle all the way by the world number 27 before getting over the line with a 50 break in the ninth frame.

He looked in top form early in the match as breaks of 76 and 95 saw him quickly open up a lead. Having been pegged back to 2-2 and 3-3, a poor shot by Holt allowed Ding to make 65 starting with a double, but a break of 99 for Holt took the match to a decider.

Holt was unlucky not to leave the balls safe after missing a long red, but was punished after missing an easy red and then a plant from distance as Ding wrapped up a 5-4 win.

The result thrilled the hitherto sparse and quiet crowd at the venue on Hainan Island - and they could be rewarded with a clash between Ding and Marco Fu, two of the biggest players to emerge from the east in recent years, should the Hong Kong player beat Mark Williams.

Ding said: “Michael played well and I did well in several frames.

“It’s hard to play your best during the opening match of a tournament. But I’ll try my best. I’m still bothered by jet lag and I have to go to bed early in the evening.”