Ding Junhui could not hide his disappointment after his Alexandra Palace hoodoo continued as he crashed out of the Masters at the first hurdle on Sunday evening.
The Sheffield-based Chinese cueman won the Masters back in 2011 – the last edition of the tournament to be held at the Wembley Arena – but has now lost five consecutive first-round matches at the Alexandra Palace after going down 6-4 to world champion Stuart Bingham
Bingham’s break of 120 in frame three, where he missed the final yellow for a possible 147, was a rare moment of truly top-class snooker in an otherwise turgid match as both men continued their struggles with form this season.
Ding suffered an ignominious first-round exit to amateur Adam Duffy at the UK Championship in November and also lost to Tian Pengfei in the German Masters qualifiers last month.
The 28-year-old missed opportunities to force a final frame decider in Sunday’s match and was downbeat in a brief press conference following the loss.
“I played ok I suppose, better than the last match,” said Ding. “I thought it was going to go to a decider at the end but it didn’t.
“I’m just playing at the moment and hopefully my results can improve.”
For his part, Bingham managed to break his own Masters hoodoo as he reached the quarter-finals, where he will play John Higgins or Liang Wenbo, for the first time.
And the 39-year-old acknowledges he simply took advantage of his sub-par opponent.
“I’ve got so much respect for Ding and he should be world champion by now but you can see that he’s struggling,” added Bingham.
“I’ve got a good record against him, so all things like that were going in my favour. I just wanted to stick in there.
“I’ve got beaten playing like that before but with Ding struggling, I came out on top. Hopefully I’ll put on a better performance in the next round though.”
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