I was very impressed by the way Ding Junhui completed his 9-8 victory over Ali Carter in the Pukka Pies UK Championship last night.
He didn’t flinch and he didn’t falter as two sizeable breaks from 8-7 down got him through to the semi-finals.
The 22 year-old Chinese was in the doldrums for a couple of years but his run to the Grand Prix final in October has brought about a huge injection of confidence.
Ding was knocked back by two heavy defeats to Ronnie O’Sullivan: in the 2007 Masters final and later at the Crucible.
And his road back to full snooker health can surely only be achieved if he beats O’Sullivan on a big stage – Sunday’s final being the perfect time – to truly exorcise those demons.
But O’Sullivan first has his work cut out today against Mark Selby, who started the season slowly and was 8-4 down to Jamie Cope in the first round but fought back to win 9-8 and played much better to see off Stephen Hendry 9-5 in the last 16.
The Leicester Jester is difficult to play against because of the various facets to his game. He’s a very heavy scorer – only John Higgins made more centuries last season – but also possesses a rock solid tactical game.
Selby is also prone to making jokes and some players, keen to concentrate, can find this off-putting.
O’Sullivan was undone from 8-5 up in the 2008 Welsh Open final when he allowed himself to become frustrated by Selby’s more methodical approach.
However, the Rocket had learned his lesson by the time the pair met in last season’s Wembley Masters final, which O’Sullivan shaded 10-8.
He was also the model of patience in beating Peter Ebdon 9-3 in the second round but although he was generally solid, Ebdon made a lot of mistakes.
So O’Sullivan will have to raise his game to see off Selby, who is full of confidence and returning to form.
Selby’s hotel room was burgled while he was playing Hendry, resulting in his car being stolen.
With trademark nonchalance he seems to have shrugged this off. Nicking a place in the semis might be a consolation.