Ding channelling charitable spirit after Welsh Open first round win

Ding Junhui could be forgiven if his mind was on events away from snooker at the moment but he still booked his place in round two of the ManBetX Welsh Open.

The Sheffield-based potter eased past three-time ranking event winner Marco Fu 4-2 at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena, striking breaks of 92, 80 and 66 to tee up a round two contest against either Nigel Bond or Ricky Walden.

But with the coronavirus currently affecting his home country of China, the world No.9 also had time to spare a thought for all those who had been impacted by the disease.

The 32-year-old made a donation of 100,000 Chinese Yuan - the equivalent of just over £11,000 - while World Snooker have promised to give £1,000 for every century break made at the tournament this week.

And the 14-time ranking event winner believes the generous contributions are vital during such an acute time of need.

“It’s very good and helpful that World Snooker are donating to the situation in China,” he said.

“I’d like to say thank you to them for doing that, and for me personally I just wanted to do everything I could to help.

“It was great to win and I played much better than I did in my last few tournaments - Marco played quite quickly today and did well.

“It’s such a short match in the best of seven format so anything can happen - my safety was okay and my long pot felt good, so I’m happy.”

Ding reigned supreme at the Betway UK Championship in York in December but has struggled for his usual fluency since, losing in the opening round at the Dafabet Masters and going down 4-0 to Scott Donaldson in round one of the Coral Grand Prix.

But he believes he has refound his mojo in the Welsh capital, as he bids to build valuable momentum heading into the prestigious Betfred World Championship at the Crucible in April.

“I always want to win every tournament, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out for me,” he added.

“I just need to keep practicing and build up the confidence - play each match, believe I can win it and then build up through the rounds.

“I haven’t been playing well for quite a few tournaments since the UK Championship - it is always going to happen sometimes, but I want to win.

“My form is still there, it’s just about when it clicks on, but today it looked well.”

Watch the Welsh Open live on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with analysis from Jimmy White and Neal Foulds