China's Ding makes historical World Champs semis

09:37, April 28, 2011      

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Ding plays against Mark Selby of England at the 2011 World Snooker China Open semifinals in Beijing, April 2, 2011. (

China's snooker star Ding Junhui became the first Chinese player to reach the world championship semifinals on Wednesday as he repelled a late comeback by England's Mark Selby to run out a 13-10 winner.

The 24-year-old - winner of the UK Championship and Masters events in his career but who has previously struggled in his adopted home city of Sheffield - will play the surprise package of the tournament English youngster and recent China Open winner Jay Trump in Thursday's semifinals.

Ding admitted to being a relieved man to have fought off the tenacious Selby, who eliminated Stephen Hendry in the previous round.

"It was a big match tonight and when it got to 10-10 I thought I was gone," said Ding. "But I told myself to keep strong, The 21st frame was vital and when I won it it heaped the pressure back on him."

"Trump will not be an easy opponent as he is playing really well and won the China Open coming into this tournament."

The other semi-final pitches two-time winner Mark Williams of Wales against Scotland's three time champion John Higgins, who ended three time champion Ronnie 'Rocket' O'Sullivan's interest in the tournament with a 13-10 victory on Wednesday.

Williams has won both their previous encounters in world championship semifinals but Higgins will be extra motivated as this time last year he had been provisionally suspended for matchfixing allegations which he was found innocent of later after an investigation.

Higgins had showed all his battling qualities to fight back from 7-4 down to level at 8-8 after the second session and then won four of the opening five frames of the final session despite O'Sullivan rattling in a 116 break for his sole frame success.

O'Sullivan kept his hopes alive with a break of 94 to make it 12-10 but the unflappable Higgins sealed his place in the last four with a break of 79, though, O'Sullivan can at least look back and be happy he didn't retire from the sport as he had suggested he would prior to the championships.

However, Higgins said that it had not been his form that had got him over the line but O'Sullivan's failings. "Ronnie missing (pots), simple as that," said the gracious Scotsman.

"At 8-5 down I thought I was out of the tournament as Ronnie is the best front runner in the sport. So it was lucky for me he missed a few he wouldn't normally miss."

O'Sullivan was graceful in defeat admitting that he had made too many errors, which not even an amateur would have made, but said that he felt better in general.

"I'm in a better place. I feel better, I feel happier, I feel better about life," said O'Sullivan, who remains the biggest drawcard in a sport short on characters and whose tortured unpredictable personality attracts many who wouldn't normally bother to watch.

"I know its not going to improve my game but if I can feel better about playing rubbish then I might hang around."

Trump, the 21-year-old Englishman and 80/1 outsider at the beginning of the championships knocked out defending champion Neil Robertson in the opening round.

He confirmed his superb form with a 13-5 last eight defeat of former champion Graeme Dott, who is another to have flirted with retiring from the sport after a prolonged bout of depression.

Williams, a former amateur boxer, knocked out Northern Ireland's Mark Allen by the same scoreline.

For Williams this is his first appearance in the last four since 2003, the year he won the second of his titles. "It's been a long time, eight years. It'll be nice," the 36-year-old reflected.

"Once it goes down to one table it's totally different. You've got loads of room and that's when it becomes a real venue. I haven't been there for so long, I'm looking forward to it."

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