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April 16, 2021

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Ding draws ex-champion Bingham in worlds opener

China’s Ding Junhui’s bid to finally land the world snooker title begins against 2015 champion Stuart Bingham after the draw was made yesterday.

Ding, 34, a two-time semifinalist and who reached the final in 2016, meets an opponent whose best days may well be behind him having had to come through qualifying to gain his place at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. The championship gets under way tomorrow and reaches its climax on May 3. There are four other Chinese cueists involved in first-round action. Masters champion Yan Bingtao plays Martin Gould whilst Liang Wenbo faces in-form Australian and 2010 champion Neil Robertson. Tian Pengfei plays Scotland’s four-time winner John Higgins, while Lyu Haotian faces Northern Irish veteran Mark Allen. Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan’s bid for a seventh title — which would equal Stephen Hendry’s record haul in the modern era — plays Mark Joyce. World No. 1 Judd Trump takes on Liam Highfield but the tie of the round could well be three-time world champion Mark Selby against Norway’s Kurt Maflin.


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