DING JUNHUI’s bid for a fifth ranking title of an astonishing season rolls on at the BetVictor Welsh Open following a 4-1 victory over Jamie Cope in Newport.
But the world No3 admitted afterwards that he has had to dig very deep this season with the sheer volume of matches, going deep into so many events.
And there is no break in sight, with the 26-year-old committed to every tournament up to and including the World Championships in April, including two in China.
Ding, into the last 32 where he will play Ben Woollaston, is going for a second Welsh Open title, having lifted the trophy two years ago.
He said: “I started well making a century in the first frame, and then after that I fell out of position a bit and played some bad shots but I managed to keep my mind on the job and get the game won.
“I don’t get too worried now how I played, as long as I do enough to get the victory. I give 100 per cent in every match out there.
“I am into the last 32 here and will play in every event from now until the World Championships, so that is a lot of snooker in the next few weeks.
“I have played a lot of good matches this season and reached many finals, but I am always looking to improve. I have given a lot this season, with matches I have played.
“Even the matches I have lost I have given everything.”
Former world champion and world No17 Graeme Dott had a huge escape against local favourite Jamie Jones, winning 4-3 on the final black.
Dott, 36, who will now play Marco Fu, said: “I didn’t play well at the end of that match. I had so many chances in the last frame and kept making a mess of it, so I am lucky to get through.
“You start thinking this is just the toss of a coin when you miss the amount of chances I did, there is no way during the frame he could have thought he would win with the position of the balls.
“But I kept getting it wrong. In the end I was so frustrated I went for the double on the final pink because I thought I’m not going to win anyway, and I went for it.
“Luckily I finally played a decent shot and it went in, maybe that is experience but to be honest the whole last frame was a comedy of errors.
“You can put it behind you though, everyone is jittery in a best-of-seven, especially when it goes close.
“I have been here for four or five days after my first match, I didn’t go home. I have just been watching the horse racing and the football. Maybe that is why I struggled.”
Anthony Hamilton beat Li Hang 4-1, and Liang Wenbo eased past Fergal O’Brien 4-0.
Photographs by Monique Limbos