30th of April 2013 Author: Glo Wood
Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry is tipping Ding Junhui to become the first ever Chinese player to win the world title, in a tournament that he finds rather disappointing so far regarding the overall standard of play. "I'm sticking by Ding. If you look at the draw it looks like he's going to have to break his legs not to get to the final," Hendry said. "A lot of the top players have failed to stamp their authority." Four-time world champion John Higgins, lost in the first round, and the list of big-name casualties also included two-time world champion Mark Williams and 2010 winner Neil Robertson, while world number one Mark Selby was knocked out in the second round.
World number nine Ding is left as the highest ranked player in his half of the draw, facing Barry Hawkins in the quarter-final. The winner will face Ricky Walden or Michael White in the semi-final. "I've been disappointed in the top players, I must admit," added Hendry. "I know the standard is getting higher in terms of the qualifiers who are coming through but the big names looked really under pressure in their first- and second-round matches. The World Championship always used to see the best players come through because of the longer matches. So the proven winners - Robertson, Selby, Higgins, Williams - will be very disappointed with their performances. This is their biggest tournament of the season by a mile. To not play your best at the Crucible is a big downer for them."
Hendry admitted he did have some concerns about Ding's big-match temperament, adding that Ronnie O'Sullivan would be capable of winning world title number five, despite his near 12-month sabbatical from the game. "The only thing that goes against Ding is he lets his frustration get to him," said Hendry. "If he misses an easy ball it seems to affect him for two or three games and you can't afford to let that happen against the real top players. Ronnie's long game is not as good as it can be, but among the balls he's as good as ever and his safety play is excellent, as it always is. He was at 50% on long potting against Ali Carter in the second round but still beat one of the game's top players, that shows you how good he is."
If you think Stephen Hendry is right in his prediction you could be cashing in as Ding is 5/1 to win the World Snooker Championship at Bet365. The odds on Ronnie O'Sullivan have dropped dramatically after he pulled off a great first session against Bingham, which ended 7-1 in favour of "the Rocket". O'Sullivan is now 10/11 to win the world title.
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