Ding fights back to face Stevens in UK second round

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DING Junhui was not at his sparkling best at the williamhill.com UK Championship in York over the weekend, but he was good enough to book his place in tomorrow’s last 16 stage.

The Sheffield-based Chinese cueman Ding Junhui bravely fought back from 5-4 down to beat Mark Davis, a qualifier from Sussex, 6-5 in their first round meeting which went the distance.

And now Ding faces Welshman Matthew Stevens in the next round as he looks to keep his hopes of a third UK crown on track.

“I was nothing special, but at least I won,” reflected Ding, a UK champion in 2005 and 2009.

Breaks of 58, 103, 64 and 61 did the trick for last season’s Masters winner as he fluked the final pink in the decider to edge though.

But the world No 5 knows he will have to play much better against Stevens, himself a former UK winner, if he’s going to stay on course for the £100,000 first prize.

“Matthew is a very good player, that’s a tough match for me,” added Ding. “I will have to play better.”

Defending champion John Higgins, 2004 UK winner Stephen Maguire, Mark Selby, former world champion Neil Robertson and Marco Fu all won their first round matches to progress at the £625,000 tournament.