Snooker: Fu's fight in vain as Ding wins marathon

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The Independent Online

Another late thriller in a northern city involving Red heroes had millions gripped last night as Ding Junhui, the 21-year-old darling of Chinese snooker, won a marathon battle of the East against Hong Kong's Marco Fu, 10-9, to reach the second round of the World Championship at The Crucible in Sheffield.

The pair traded exemplary safety exchanges and a succession of centuries in the morning, Ding racing to a 5-1 lead before being pegged back to 5-4 ahead of the evening session. By night – and the final ball did not drop until 10.52pm – they both weighed in with big, stylish breaks, both held the lead, and both grappled with nerves before Ding edged over the line.

Ding's high break was a 114 in the 15th frame, but he had another ton in the morning (to Fu's two) plus knocks of 87, 99, and 97 across the day. His reward is a meeting with the seven-times former champion, Stephen Hendry.

China's talent will be showcased again today when the 17-year-old debutant, Liu Chuang, takes on Ronnie O'Sullivan. The winner of that will face Mark Williams, who completed an opening 10-3 win over Mark Davis yesterday.

Last year's runner-up Mark Selby crashed out 10-8 in the opening round to qualifier Mark King.