Sheffield-based champ Ding off to sound start

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DEFENDING champion Ding Junhui got his BetVictor Welsh Open title defence off to a winning start in Newport.

Sheffield-based Chinese cueman Ding clinched a 4-2 first round victory over Thailand’s Dechawat Poomjaeng.

The former UK and Masters champion will now face Romford potter Mark King tomorrow in the last 32 stage of this year’s £250,000 ranking tournament.

“I’m very pleased to have won,” reflected Ding, who beat Mark Selby 9-6 in last year’s final. I would really like to defend my title, but I know it’s going to be tough.”

Former Rotherham potter Shaun Murphy kicks off his title-challenge tonight against Indian qualifier Pankaj Advani.