Sheffield potter Ding Junhui fell short in his pursuit of four straight ranking tournament wins – but he admitted his performance was more disappointing than the result.
The world No.3 had lifted three trophies and won 22 ranking matches on the bounce going into his last-16 clash with Ricky Walden at the UK Snooker Championship.
However the 26-year-old lost 6-4 to Walden at the Barbican Centre in York on Wednesday afternoon after missing a straightforward pink in the final frame.
And so Ding, who won the UK title in 2005 and 2009, could not extend the pattern of claiming the trophy every four years and the disappointment was clear to see.
“I’m not disappointed to lose in any tournament – ranking or not ranking,” he said. “I am just playing not how I think I should. That is what has most disappointed me.
“My cue action was not well – it was turning in my hands. The match was not good. It feels difficult to play every game like this.
“He gave little chances and every frame he scored heavy. He didn’t leave any long ones – very good safety.”
Ding found himself 3-1 and then 5-3 behind against Walden in their fourth-round clash but responded instantly with a century break on each occasion.
For the latter he looked in contention for a 147 but opted to settle for a blue midway through the frame and finished with a 135 instead.
Reflecting on the clash Ding pointed to a battle on the black with the score tied at 3-3 as the game’s decisive moment – and he admitted Walden could go on to win the tournament.
“That was a big frame,” said Ding. “It was a black ball game and that black nearly went in – the pockets are so tight. Then after that he had more confidence from going 4-3 up.
“I think anybody can win. You couldn’t see this one, with the form he had, but maybe in the next one he is going to play better and better. You don’t know who is going to win but best wishes for him.”
And the world No.3 was in no mood to discuss his chances of becoming the first non-Olympian to be crowned Chinese sportsperson of the year for which he is among this year’s favourites.
“I don’t care – I’m just disappointed,” he added. “I just work hard to win tournaments – that brings the most happiness for myself.
“It is great to have this but of course you have to work hard and show people – then you go to the top stage.”
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