Snooker: Rested Ding eyes Masters glory

Ding Junhui will take on Shaun Murphy in the first round of this year's Masters.

Ding Junhui will take on Shaun Murphy in the first round of this year's Masters.

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Sheffield-based cueman Ding Junhui is seeking to add to his recent haul of trophies when he competes in the Dafabet Masters next week.

Ding, who practices at the Star Snooker Academy, Firshill Crescent, has been snooker’s most successful player so far this season, winning a hat-trick of ranking titles at the Shanghai Masters, Indian Open and International Championship.

Ding has won the Masters once before in his career, beating Marco Fu in the 2011 final, but he has crashed out at the first round stage in each of the last two years.

The 26-year-old faces former Rotherham potter Shaun Murphy in the first round of this year’s tournament. Their clash takes place on Tuesday afternoon.

“I am very confident I can achieve more this season,” said Ding. “I have had a good rest for the past three weeks which was very important for me, half-way through the season. It has enabled me to recharge the batteries and I feel fresh to face the challenge ahead.

“The Masters is a very traditional event with a lot of history. It is very important for every player. Only the top 16 can play there, which makes it even more special.”

The Masters, featuring Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson, Mark Selby and John Higgins, runs from January 12 to 19.

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