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Ding can stay close to Selby in semi-final showdown

Classy Chinese cueman worth a handicap punt

Ding Junhui meets Mark Selby in a repeat of last year's final
1 of 1

Betfred World Championship semi-final
BBC & Eurosport, from 1pm Thursday

Casual snooker fans will no doubt be disappointed showman Ronnie O'Sullivan departed the Crucible Theatre at the quarter-final stage but his Sheffield conqueror Ding Junhui fully deserves his place in the last four of the Betfred World Championship.

The Rocket knocked in a 146 during his 13-10 defeat but even O'Sullivan failed to match Ding's delightful breakbuilding as the Chinese cueman set-up a rematch between last year's finalists as he faces defending champion Mark Selby in the semis.

No doubt Selby deserves to be favourite but this Sheffield showdown could well turn into an epic encounter and Ding deserves to be backed to stay within 3.5 frames in this best-of-33 battle.

Ding has knocked in nine centuries in three matches during this tournament and should take plenty of encouragement having seen off bogeyman O'Sullivan, who was for so long his nemesis.

A slow start did for Ding in last year's final - he was 6-0 down at one stage - and while he got to within one frame on a couple of times the hard-as-nails Selby failed to wilt under pressure.

Selby has not had to use his trademark battling qualities during this tournament, dropping only 11 frames, but not much should be read into the 13-3 demolition of a strangely out-of-sorts Marco Fu in the quarter-finals.

The Jester finished strongly as the pots started to flow with breaks of 132, 139 and 143, but before that he had found it difficult to score heavily and Ding can at least stay close.

Recommendation
Ding Junhui +3.5 frames
1pt 4-5 Coral

No doubt Selby deserves to be favourite but this Sheffield showdown could well turn into an epic encounter
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