DING JUNHUI underlined his Betfred World Championship ambitions by closing out victory over Chinese compatriot Xiao Guodong in little more than an hour in the first round.
The world No 3 held a healthy 6-3 overnight lead and quickly reeled off four frames in a row to clinch a 10-3 win, setting up a clash with either Anthony McGill or Ryan Day next.
It was an encouraging opening display from Ding, whose bid to become the first Chinese player to go all the way in this competition saw him bounce back from an early 2-0 deficit yesterday, notching one century and seven 50-plus breaks along the way.
“I played well in the end,” said Ding. “I just went for my shots and made some breaks. I didn’t play a lot of safety, I just went for the shots without caring, it surprised me.
“Xiao is always looking to beat me. You could see in the first session he played quite well at the start to lead 2-0. He’s a good player, but he doesn’t have that much experience of beating the top 16. He needs more experience to improve.”
Ding’s serene progress is in stark contrast to the fortunes of those above him in the rankings, with world number one Mark Selby already eliminated and Ronnie O’Sullivan labouring before eventually coming through.
I didn’t play a lot of safety, I just went for the shots without caring, it surprised me.Ding Junhui
Ding added: “I’m confident in my form but I try not to worry about form too much, I’m just looking forward to another chance. It’s good to smile out there, it takes the pressure away if I play some bad shots.
“Everyone is under pressure here, but Mark Selby had the most pressure because he was the defending champion. It surprised me that he lost in the first round.
“I’d like to play Ronnie O’Sullivan later in the tournament because I want to improve myself and I want to play the hardest ones to beat, to test myself.”
Stuart Bingham almost pocketed a £50,000 bonus during the first session of his clash with Jack Lisowski.
From 5-2 down, Bingham fought back to trail 5-4 ahead of their resumption on Tuesday evening, and the 2015 world champion threatened to make a 147 maximum break in the final frame of the session.
He sank 11 reds and blacks but rattled the 12th red around the jaws of a corner pocket, with the ball failing to drop. A perfect total clearance could have earned him the £10,000 high-break prize plus the £40,000 on offer for a maximum in Sheffield.
Seven-time champion Stephen Hendry remains the last player to make a 147 at the Crucible, achieving that feat in the first round against Bingham in 2012 at his final tournament before retiring.