It seems to me that Ding Jun Hui is still suffering as a result of his 10-3 Saga Insurance Masters defeat to Ronnie O’Sullivan in January.
In fact, the Chinese prodigy, who celebrates his 20th birthday today, has won only two matches since.
The hostile Wembley crowd, coupled with O’Sullivan’s brilliance, made for a thoroughly miserable day for Ding, who was so fed up that he attempted to concede the match trailing 9-3.
It was only O’Sullivan’s thoughtfulness that prevented this, though it didn’t stop all parties pretending Ding had thought the final was best of 17 – a notion that is even more absurd some two months on.
Ding did beat Mark Davis 10-6 to reach the Crucible and then defeated Adrian Gunnell in the first round of the China Open but he must have been bitterly disappointed to lose 5-3 to Barry Hawkins in Beijing and exit his home event at the last 32 stage.
He can’t have been too pleased to have drawn O’Sullivan again in the first round of the 888.com World Championship, which gets underway in Sheffield in three weeks time.
Few Crucible debutants have settled immediately in the unique atmosphere at the claustrophobic home of snooker.
Indeed, O’Sullivan is among a number of big names – Steve Davis, Jimmy White, Stephen Hendry, Ken Doherty, John Higgins and Shaun Murphy included – to have lost their first match at the Crucible.
Given Ding’s problems this year, it is hard to see him beating O’Sullivan, though the latter’s own notorious unpredictability may also be a factor. Bookies William Hill is offering 25/1 on either player walking out before the end of the match.
Ding is still only a young man and carries on his shoulders the hopes and expectations of the biggest country in the world.
It is only natural he should start to feel the pressure. The question is, can he turn things round again?