DING Junhui was on the verge of suffering a shock early exit from the Betway UK Championship for the third year running but claims he never lost the faith after sneaking through to round two with a 6-5 triumph.
The Sheffield-based Chinese superstar appeared to be on cruise control as he raced into a 4-1 lead at the York Barbican, only for world No.124 Igor Figueiredo to fight back and move within a frame of victory at 5-4.
But Ding – winner of the event in 2005 and 2009 – dug deep to level the match by clinching frame ten and although Figueiredo got in first in the decider, the world No.5 produced a nerveless 74 clearance to snatch it.
Twelve months ago Ding lost to Sheffield amateur Adam Duffy in the first round of the UK Championship, while in 2014 he was knocked out by 18-year-old James Cahill but this time around he refused to let his head drop.
“From 4-1 up to 5-4 down I kept telling myself it wasn’t finished yet and I just needed to carry on,” explained Ding.
“I knew I wasn’t scoring that well but I just wanted to get a few points and then play good safety.
“I was still confident and I wanted to take it to a decider because I think I have played more of them than him.
“I want to try and ignore the pressure, I don’t want to think ‘this is the UK Championship, this is a big event’. I just need to go in, try hard to win matches and play the best I can.
“Every time I make a mistake, I need to forgive myself and that is one of the hardest things for me.
“I still have some emotions and anger in the matches but I try to keep them down and just wait for my next chance.
“I will get back to practice now and hopefully I will find some better form.”
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