FORMER world champion Neil Robertson expects he will have his hands full against Sheffield potter Ding Junhui at the williamhill.com UK Championship in York today.
Aussie ace Robertson and adopted Yorkshireman Ding clash in the quarter-finals of snooker’s second biggest tournament at the Barbican Centre. And Robertson knows 24-year-old Ding will be hungry to make it a hat-trick of UK crowns having won the title in 2005 and 2009.
“Ding has probably not played his best yet, but I’m sure I’m going to have to play better to get into the semis,” said Robertson, the 2010 World Championship winner.
“I’ve been playing really well all season, but I played so poorly against Graeme Dott in my last match I’m really going to have to up my game. Ding’s a great player and he’s done well at the UK before, he seems to like playing here, but as long as I can produce then I’m confident of getting into the semi-finals.
“I’ve prepared really well for this tournament, but it starts to get really important and mean more when you get to the quarters and then the semis.
“I’m going to try and up the tempo a little bit and make sure I don’t get bogged down because Ding does like to dominate. It’s up to me to put the pressure on him. If I do that then I’m going to be in a good position to progress.”
Ding, who practices at the English Institute of Sport in Attercliffe, edged qualifier Mark Davis 6-5 in a hard-fought first round clash and was also taken to the wire by Welshman Matthew Stevens in the last 16, before prevailing by the same scoreline.
But the world No 6 has not played his best yet in north Yorkshire this week and believes there is plenty more to come if he can find his rhythm.
“I’ve not playing my best, but hopefully I can play better against Neil,” revealed Ding. “I like the UK, I’ve lots of good memories winning my two titles. Neil is a good player, though, I’m going to have to play well to beat him. Hopefully it’s an exciting match for the crowd.”