Ding Junhui on UK success, new training routines and his love for Sheffield United

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DING Junhui may have won his third Betway UK Championship in York last week but that wasn’t the only thing the world No 9 had to celebrate.

The 14-time ranking event winner followed up his Triple Crown success with a routine 4-1 victory in the first round of the 19.com Scottish Open in Glasgow on Tuesday, easing past Michael White with two masterful century breaks.

Ding Junhui.

Ding Junhui.

But Ding is also a patron of Sheffield United FC, who capped off a super Sunday to remember for the Chinese potter with a 2-1 triumph of their own over Norwich City at Carrow Road.

And the Sheffield-based cueman keeps a close eye on affairs at Bramall Lane, hoping 2020 will be a glorious year for both him on the tables and Chris Wilder’s side on the pitch.

“I’m fully supporting Sheffield United and watching them at every game – hopefully they can stay in the Premier League,” the 32-year-old said.

“It’s looking good this season, and hopefully they can finish well and bring in some better players next year.

“It’s a tough time for Sheffield United as they haven’t brought in a lot of players since last season, but the team works so well together.

“It’s a good win for me in Scotland – last week I did well and now the confidence is building up but today there was a bit of pressure.

“I had to travel up here and get into the match quickly, but I played well and I’m looking forward to the next round.”

But it’s potting that pays the bills for Ding, who had failed to win a ranking event for more than two years until this third Betway UK Championship at the Barbican.

That’s all changed now, however, and the former world number one – who became a father in 2018 – says the pain of the last 24 months made the taste of lifting the trophy in York even sweeter.

“It did make it more special to win my third UK Championship in York after such a bad two years,” he added.

“The last two years were difficult to go through – I totally lost my confidence and my practice, my routines and my qualities were totally lost.

“There was no target to what I was doing - practice was bad, and the shots I played and the frames I played were just not good enough.

“I needed to focus on the important things and the key things like the concentration and the practice, and after that I could see what the problem was that I had and sort it out.”

Leeds-based player Oliver Lines was also in action at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena, losing 4-2 in frames to Tian Pengfei as the Chinese player hit breaks of 88, 97 and 50 to cruise into the second round.

“It’s not been a very good season - I’ve lost a lot of games but I’ve had some tough draws as well,” Lines said.

“I just need a win, and I’ll take a win from anywhere at the minute.”

* Watch the Scottish Open live on Eurosport, Eurosport Player and Quest with studio analysis from Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jimmy White