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Trailblazer Ding must be considered for Crucible glory

Ding Junhui can be backed at 13.00 to win the 2019 World Championship in Sheffield after coming close to landing the Six-red World Championship.

It has been a case of one year on one year off for the Chinese star at the event as he exited the Bangkok tournament at the first-round stage in 2015 before beating England’s Stuart Bingham in the final of the 2016 edition.

Last year saw the 31-year-old crash out to Hong Kong’s Marco Fu in the first knockout round while he reached the final this time around, only to lose 8-4 to Kyren Wilson.

‘Pot Noodle’ is a popular player on the circuit and would certainly be a welcome winner at the Crucible, having pushed Mark Selby close in 2016 before going down 18-14 in South Yorkshire. He also reached the semi-finals in both 2011 and 2017 while making the last-eight earlier this year.

Although still in his early 30s, Ding seems to have been around the top of the sport for some time and was the pioneer for a talented bunch of Chinese stars to ply their trade on the green baize. The likes of Liang Wenbo, Yu Delu, Xiao Guodong, Li Hang and Chen Zhe are among the professional ranks but have yet to enjoy the success Ding has garnered.

Twice a winner of the China Open, he has also won the prestigious UK Open on a couple of occasions while claiming the 2011 Masters at Wembley. The UK Open takes place this year between November 27 and December 9, with the ‘Star of the East’ priced at 12.00 to win for the third time.

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