Snooker: Sheffield-based Ding Junhui suffers identity crisis

Ding Junhui
Ding Junhui
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After continuing his recent Masters hoodoo by crashing out at the first hurdle, Ding Junhui admits it is time to go back to the drawing board.

Ding played nowhere near his fluid best as he went down 6-3 to world No. 13 Joe Perry at London’s Alexandra Palace.

Although the Sheffield-based Chinese cueman made a break of 80 he still trailed 3-1 before narrowing the gap to one after the mid-session interval.

But when Perry snatched frame six after coming to the table requiring three snookers, the life seemed to be sucked out of Ding and the Englishman clinched victory with a century in frame nine.

Since winning the Masters in 2011, Ding has lost in the first round every year and the world No. 2 acknowledges his frustration at being unable to translate his practise form into tournament play.

“I’m practising hard – I practise for four or five hours every day and I practise alright, it’s not that bad,” said Ding.

“But when I get into the arenas it’s different – it’s not like me, it is like somebody else playing.

“I was confident in practise but when I play on the tables it’s absolutely different.

“Maybe I have to go back to how I was when I first came to England – I had nothing, so I had to try to win every tournament and every match.”

Ding had one of the greatest seasons of all-time last year – winning five ranking events to equal Stephen Hendry’s record for the most in a single campaign.

But this year has been a different story with the Yixing Open, a minor tournament, his only win and a number of early exits.

And after losing to Perry, the 27-year-old admits he needs to stop over-thinking his game.

“I’ve had so many disappointments this season and this is just another one for me,” added Ding.

“I’m just not patient at tournaments and maybe there is too much concentration from me.

“I’m thinking about the balls, thinking about break-building but when I get a chance, I should just play. Sometimes that would help me to play better.”

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