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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Settled Ding raring to go on home soil

Young Brit has the game to mix it with the best

Ding Junhui has been pacing himself through the year
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Starts 2.30am Monday

A quick turnaround following the climax of the Indian Open sees the boys on the baize back in action in China for the World Open, and those turning up fresh are fancied to fare best.

No one will be in better shape than home favourite Ding Junhui, who has been ultra-selective with his appearances this season and should be raring to go.

This is only the second ranking event the world number four has elected to play in - the China Championship was the first. His only other appearance was a successful tilt at the World Cup with Liang Wenbo in July, when he looked in great nick.

Ding struggled with the attention and pressure thrust upon him on home soil in the early stages of his career, but now he is a seasoned professional and prolific ranking-event winner, he has matured and thrives on big occasions.

His qualifier against Hammad Miah has been carried over to the venue, while the other qualification matches took place in Preston last month, so he does have an extra game to play.

But the draw points towards potential clashes with countrymen Zhang Anda and Xiao Guodong, both of whom may struggle to deal with the enormous pressure from the coverage a match against the Chinese superstar would bring.

Ding is fancied to cruise through the early rounds and the prices on offer are appealing.

A semi-final clash with world champion Mark Selby looks likely to have a huge bearing on where the £150,000 prize ends up.

In the other half of the draw is a player to look out for not just this week but also for the future in 23-year-old Englishman Sam Craigie.

He has been on and off the Tour since gaining his card through winning the IBSF World Under-21 Championship in 2010, but has the game to mix it with the best and has threatened to put a run together in a ranking event over the last 12 months.

Craigie beat Marco Fu in this tournament last year and thumped Judd Trump 5-0 in Preston to qualify this time, to name just two of his notable scalps.

He has a favourable draw and is fancied to outrun the huge prices quoted.

Ding Junhui
2pts each-way 15-2 bet365
S Craigie
0.5pt each-way 300-1 general

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Now he is a seasoned professional and prolific ranking-event winner, Ding has matured and thrives on big occasions
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