Ding Junhui looks the player to beat when the Betway UK Championship cues off in York next month.
The Sheffield-based player has hit a rich seam of form and tomorrow will look to secure back-to-back titles in his native China when he competes in the final of the International Championship.
The home favourite has already bagged last month’s Shanghai Masters and yesterday beat in-form Judd Trump 9-4 in the semi-fnals in Daqing.
Ding set an electric pace and stormed to a 6-0 lead during the afternoon session. After stealing the second frame on the black to lead 2-0, he stopped his opponent from scoring a single point in the next four.
World No 6 Ding compiled breaks of 61, 43, 49 and 47, before Trump responsed to cut the gap to 7-4. Ding, though, regained his composure as breaks of 134 and 72 clinched a 9-4 win.
“I’m very happy with how I played today,” said Ding, who has lived in Sheffield since arriving in England as a teenager.
“Judd is a good player, we always have good matches when we play. I will just keep trying to play my snooker whoever I play. I will try to take my chances. I’m just happy to be in the final. I love to win any event I can in China.”
Ding has fond memories of York – which begins on November 22 – after winning the UK title in 2005 when he was just 18, beating Steve Davis 10-6 in the final. He also triumphed in 2009.
All of the world’s top 16 layers will be at the York Barbican, among a field of 128, chasing the £170,000 top prize.
Several of the top players have already had their first round matches scheduled.
Ding will open up the tournament on the first day, Tuesday November 22, alongside Barry Hawkins, Trump and Kyren Wilson.
Wednesday sees Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins, Shaun Murphy and Mark Allen in action, before Mark Williams, Ali Carter, Mark Selby, Stuart Bingham and Neil Robertson play 24 hours later on Thursday.
The Betway UK Championship runs from November 22 to December 4 at the York Barbican. Tickets start at £7, for details call 0844 854 2757 or visit www.worldsnooker.com/tickets