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September 12, 2009

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Home » Sports » Snooker

Liang carries Chinese hopes

WORLD No. 1 Ronnie 'Rocket' O'Sullivan saw off the challenge by local favorite Ding Junhui for a 5-3 victory in the quarterfinal of the Shanghai Masters yesterday, while Liang Wenbo became the first Chinese to reach the semifinals here.

O'Sullivan will be up next against Scottish foe John Higgins.

Organizers were forced to add 200 more seats at the Shanghai Indoor Stadium yesterday as the eye-catching duel between O'Sullivan and Ding attracted a record crowd in the event's history.

It was the first time that the two immensely popular players competed against each other on the Chinese mainland with O'Sullivan enjoying the upper hand by winning five matches and drawing two from their previous nine meeting since the Wembley Masters in 2005.

The 22-year-old Jiangsu-based Ding was off to a good start -- taking only 14 minutes to close the first frame 96-0 before missing the yellow.

The Englishman levelled the match 1-1 by taking the second frame 70-62. He continued in the same vein -- making it 97-25 with clearance and compiling a 101 break in the fourth frame to take a 3-1 lead before the break.

O'Sullivan took another step towards victory by extending the lead to 4-1. However, Ding fought back and prevented his opponent from scoring a single point by compiling a 122-0 in the sixth frame and a 99 break to win the seventh 120-0 with clearance, cutting O'Sullivan's lead to 4-3.

But the in-form O'Sullivan dashed any hopes of an upset by taking the last frame 100-26 to settle the game at 5-3.

"I have always wanted to play Ding on his territory," O'Sullivan said after the match. "Today something happened to Ding which led to the misses (in the last frame). There must be some pressure on him as he is playing in his own backyard."

In today's semifinal, O'Sullivan will take on long-term rival Higgins, who overcame Ryan Day of Wales 5-1.

The other semifinal will be held between China's lone survivor Liang Wenbo and England's Shawn Murphy, who overcame Irish Ken Doherty 5-0.

The 22-year-old Liang from Heilongjiang Province took a 4-1 lead over Englishman Ricky Walden before the defending champion fought back in two frames. Liang then complied a 122 break with clearance to end the match at 5-3 for a personal best performance in a ranking tournament.


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