Today, Ding Junhui is 36 years old.
He failed to go further in the Tour Championship and used the victory as a birthday gift for his own year. But two days ago, getting a seat directly to Cruzburg was enough to be Ding Junhui's consolation.
He rose to prominence as a genius, winning 14 ranking tournament titles during his career, including three British Championship titles and one Masters title. Of course, the thick honor book still has this string of numbers written - 616 single 100, 6 147 full score, once reached the top of the world...
Despite the ups and downs of the past few years, he is still the undisputed number one in Asia in the history of snooker.
He is a "billiards prodigy" and a "Chinese brother", carrying the banner of Chinese snooker alone. And this month, the World Championships are about to start, and "Dream Chaser" Ding Junhui is once again attacking his Grand Slam dream.
As he put it - "Time goes slowly, and I still haven't forgotten my dreams and efforts." ”
A billiards prodigy who became famous all over the world
The China Open is the starting point of Ding Junhui's road to fame.
On April 3, 2005, he defeated the "Emperor of Billiards" Hendry 9–5, giving the first time the name of the Chinese on the snooker ranking championship list.
At the time, he was just a young player who had just passed his 18th birthday and was ranked only 51st in the world. In more than two years of his career, his best result in the ranking tournament was reaching the round of sixteen.
But that time, he raced all the way with a wild card - a 5-2 victory over Mark Davis in qualifying; beat world No. 8 Alberton 5-0 in the first round; Beat Bingham 5-4 in the second round to advance to the quarterfinals, setting the best record in a personal ranking tournament; On his birthday night, "China Derby" beat world No. 25 Fu Jiajun 5-2 to advance to the semifinals; swept former world champion and current world No. 7 Dahedi 6-0 in the semifinals; In the final, they defeated Hendry, the former world number one and one of the greatest players in snooker history, 9-5.
As if the times had predicted that this "billiards prodigy" from China would write his own chapter in the future. So, he laid out the red carpet for him in front of his house in advance, and he also walked all the way with confident steps.
In the history of Chinese snooker, there has never been such a person who has such attention - CCTV counted 110 million viewers of the final; from young people to the elderly, countless people began to talk about this sport; more parents want their children to follow Ding Junhui's path to create the next prodigy...
After the game, Ding Junhui once said, "I will try to win the world championship." I hope that I can be as influential as Yao Ming in the snooker game and win glory for China. ”
Later stories proved that he did it all.
As soon as the club broke, my career was over
Debuting as a "prodigy", Ding Junhui has been alone over the years, supporting the façade of Chinese snooker alone.
He once stepped on the top of the mountain, won the championship, set a record, and let the world remember the Chinese "Ding"; He also fell to the bottom, and the championship drought of two or three years and multiple rounds of swimming gave him another title of "Ding Yi round".
But along the way, whether it was success or failure, Ding Junhui's psychological sense of burden had overwhelmed him for many years.
Many times, Ding Junhui will think of his teenager self - far from China, crazy practice. He used "closed" to describe the state at that time, in Ding Junhui's view, when he participated in the competition when he was young, he did not have so many championship ideas, only a very simple goal: to make money. He remembers whether the money in the family when he went out was only £500 or £800. He uses winning (earning bonuses) as a way to support himself – "I can only think so, so want to make things easy for myself." ”
This kind of topic seems to sound particularly heavy, but Ding Junhui said it very easily.
"If you empty all your things and let you get them all over again, you don't want to." No way, caused by the environment. ”
After he was finally able to earn various tournament prizes and no longer worry about his basic livelihood, he was burdened by all kinds of words. In fact, he is not a particularly good person to deal with this - since he was a child, he locked himself in a room, faced the table for 8 hours, and could not say a word for a day. Even when he was 18 and won the China Open, he didn't have his phone. Therefore, when he really goes out and finds that in this world, in addition to people who are really good for you, there are also some people with malicious intentions, Ding Junhui's heart will become extremely sensitive and divided.
So, sometimes he doesn't smile, and sometimes he looks like he hasn't woken up. That is his way, put on the "armor" of isolation, to soothe and lick his wounds, to resist the storm of the outside world.
But sometimes, inevitably, he still falls into anxiety. Focusing on the outcome of the game, losing the game will be very unhappy... Ding Junhui will even recall the entire losing process like a movie, including the second and third days.
When there is no competition, he also dreams. Ding Junhui once described the scariest dream he ever had - "My club broke, it scared me to death, and when the club broke, my career was over." ”
But as he grew older, Ding Junhui began to become less sharp.
"Now what happens if you lose the game?"
"It's over, don't think too much, don't think about it."
"Can you put it down now?"
"What if you can't put it down?"
World Championships, the last unconquered fortress
In an interview eight years ago, when Ding Junhui was asked "when do you think your world champion will come," he replied with only six words: "I don't know, suddenly." ”
In the early hours of this morning, Ding Junhui lost to Kyren Wilson and failed to reach the final of the Tour Championship.
But he also completed the scheduled task of going straight to Cruzburg before the game. As the only fortress that failed to be conquered by Ding Junhui in the three major competitions, it means a lot to him to get a place in the World Championships. He has competed in six World Championship qualifiers, but only reached the round of 16 once in 2016, and only three times he failed to reach the round of 16 in 13 seeded appearances.
It's a positive hint for him – another attack on the world championship, and historically, he should be able to go further.
In recent seasons, in fact, Ding Junhui's state is difficult to say excellent.
His ranking title drought has lasted more than three years, the longest of his career, with the last triumph coming back to the British Championship final in December 2019. Although he won the six-red ball world championship last month, overall, his performance in ranking matches is difficult to say.
Even if he qualified for the World Championships this time, discerning people know that it is also destined for seven points, and three points rely on hard work. This result was achieved when he won some key games and competitors dropped the chain. Of course, we don't have to dwell too much on the process, after all, competitive games are about results.
When Ding Junhui pushes open the door to the World Championship again, we should once again hope for him, as we have been doing all these years - he is 36 years old, although he is no longer young, but he is definitely not an old snooker player, he still has the time and opportunity to attack the highest peak of Cruzburg again and again.
Don't forget his words after winning the Six Red Ball World Championships, "Thank you everyone, take your time, and still haven't forgotten your dreams and efforts."
Yes, despite the ups and downs, he is still on the road to chasing the world championship. This time, is that "sudden" moment eight years later?
A beacon of Chinese snooker
First of all, when did you start paying attention to Chinese snooker?
Perhaps, the vast majority of people give different answers, but when it comes to who started paying attention to Chinese snooker, I believe that most people give the same answer - Ding Junhui.
Before Ding Junhui appeared, few people knew about Chinese snooker. There are few Chinese players in the top snooker arena, and there is no chance of finishing in the top 32 in every game. After winning the first ranking tournament of his career at the China Open, Ding Junhui once said, "Chinese players do not have such results in the world, and in the past, old athletes like Guo Hua and them only ranked more than 90 in the world at their best, so this is a big breakthrough." ”
If the first ranking tournament champion was Ding Junhui's initial fulfillment of the title of "billiards prodigy", then the subsequent series of breakthroughs surprised us even more - this surprise is no less than Yao Ming for Chinese basketball, Li Na for Chinese tennis. Chinese snooker players can win the ranking tournament, Chinese players can win the three major championships, Chinese players can become the world's number one... These previously unimaginable achievements, Ding Junhui have successively realized.
In a snooker arena made up of a long pole on one table, Ding Junhui emerged from a crowd of white players and has created results that we could not have imagined many years ago.
Carrying the banner of Chinese snooker, Ding Junhui walked alone for many years, and finally waited for his companions.
He waited for Zhao Xintong, Yan Bingtao, and countless descendants of Chinese snooker. Now when the foreign media refer to Chinese snooker, they will not ignore the power of the "Chinese Legion". He also established the Snooker Academy in Sheffield, England, the real first training base in China overseas, where juniors can finally have their own place to practice.
We thank him, not only for breaking down barriers with his talent and hard work, and for letting more people know and know about snooker with his achievements, but also for becoming famous, he was like a beacon that illuminated the path of those who came after.
"Ding Junhui" has long been more than just a personal name, but more like a symbol, representing the most glorious beginning of Chinese snooker. And he is the pioneer, and the leader.
For Ding Junhui, it is enough to blow a gust of wind of the times.