China's Ding starts well in snooker World Champs

 Published: 4/17/2011 9:02:04 AM GMT
Original Cached

SHEFFIELD (AFP) – Welshman Mark Williams is hell bent on landing a third snooker world championship title after setting up a second-round meeting with Jamie Cope on Sunday after seeing off fellow Welshman Ryan Day 10-5.

Williams, champion in 2000 and 2003, now stands second in the world rankings just three years after falling out of the top 16.

"I'm quietly confident. I'm playing all right, I'm scoring all right, and my all-round game is good," said Williams, whose second round rival scored a 10-7 victory over Crucible debutant Andrew Pagett.

"All I ever say is that I'm going to be tough to beat and a handful for anyone really," said Williams.

"I'm playing nowhere near where I was in 2003, and don't think I'll ever play that well again. That's probably my peak.

But Williams also said he believes three-time winner Ronnie O'Sullivan may be the man to beat - as long as he turns up and can find some form.

"No-one knows if he's going to turn up, do they? He's in, he's out, he's retired, he's out of retirement. No-one knows what's going through his head.

"If he turns up and gives it 100 percent, for me he's the one to beat."

O'Sullivan begins his Crucible campaign against Welshman Dominic Dale on Monday.

But the Rocket heads into the event following four straight first-round defeats in major events.

China's Ding Junhui was cruising towards the second round after building a commanding 8-1 lead over Scotland's Jamie Burnett on Sunday, while 2008 runner-up Ali Carter, saw off Dave Harold 10-3.

Harold joked on hearing his beloved Stoke City had reached their first ever FA Cup final that "I've got to be the happiest first-round loser in the history of the Crucible because my team won 5-0, so that's cheered me up."

Ding, meanwhile is among the title favourites and the Masters champion looks in the mood to justify his billing on the evidence of this emphatic start to the tournament.

The 24-year-old, ranked fourth in the world, had breaks of 117, 84 and 128 as he established a 7-0 lead before Burnett won his first frame.

Even then Ding came back to take the last frame of the session and he needs just two more to seal a second round place when the match resumes on Monday.

The tournament had got off to a stunning start at the Crucible late Saturday with the defeat of the defending champion Neil Robertson.

The Australian lost 10-8 to the fast-rising Judd Trump of England who clinched victory with a break of 83 in the 18th frame.

He will now play either Martin Gould or Marco Fu in the last 16 and a similar performance could see him go a long way in the next two and a half weeks.

For Robertson it will be said that the 'Crucible curse' has struck again, with another first-time winner failing to defend his title.

No player has won their first two world titles in consecutive years in Sheffield.

Robertson becomes the first defending champion to lose in the first round since Graeme Dott tumbled out to Ian McCulloch in 2007.

Trump, who led 5-4 after the opening session, won the China Open a fortnight ago to secure his first major title.

Former champion Shaun Murphy stormed into the second round with a 10-1 victory over Marcus Campbell and could meet O'Sullivan if the mercurial former champ can first defeat Dale.


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