Ding Junhui raced to a first Masters title by beating Marco Fu 11-4, in a final that was said to have been watched by over 100 million people in his native China.
Ding started quickly in the final, much as he did against Ronnie O’Sullivan in the 2007 final. However, where the Chinese world number four fell to an agonising 10-3 loss on that occasion, this time around he was able to pile on the pressure when needed and keep his momentum going.
At the end of the first session Ding, who turned professional in 2003 at the age of just 16, led 6-2 over fellow Asian player Fu. Breaks of 120 and 74 setting him on his way, although Hong Kong’s Fu was able to respond with a break of 80 to stop Ding from moving out of sight.
With the match finely balanced at 6-4 after the interval, Fu had a gilt edged opportunity to lower to deficit to just one, but was unable to grab his chance. Fu, a full ten years the elder, managed to snooker Ding behind the yellow, but somehow the 23 year old, nicknamed the “Star of the East,” found his way out and then, just shots later, played a miraculous shot to snooker Fu behind the pink ball. Fu was unable to rescue the situation and could only look on in despair as his attempted rescue shot saw the cue ball drop into the pocket.
Had Fu, who’s current ranking is 18 following a career high of eight last year, won the frame, he would have closed the gap to just one at 6-5 and the match could have ended so differently.
As it was Ding, who won the UK Championship last season, saw his chance to seize the initiative and took it, not allowing Fu another look in in the match as he closed with breaks of 94, 83, and 85 to race to his first Masters title success 11-4.
The victory will be all the more sweat for Ding as he was able to triumph in an historic first all Asian final at the Masters and after he lost to Fu in the individual final of the recent Asian Games in Guangzhou.
Ding will revel in the victory while Fu, who’s last ranking victory came back in 2007 Grand Prix final against O’Sullivan, will be pleased with his form throughout the tournament and will hope it signals an upturn in form for 2011.