Chinese Ding held his nerve in a nail-biting, see-saw contest against the reigning world champion which finished after midnight.
It took until the 13th frame for either player to win two consecutively. At that point Higgins moved into the lead for the first time in the match at 7-6.
However 2005 champion Ding was the more consistent player in the closing stages, taking four of the next five frames.
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The match got off to a slow start but it was Ding - showing newfound maturity in his game in Telford - who made the most of his first real chance with an 81 to take the first frame.
Higgins drew level with a 67 to counter Ding's initial 43 in the next before the 2005 champion retook the lead with a break of 69.
The Scot, who had earlier complained of a bright spotlight affecting his vision, managed to regain his focus in the fourth frame.
Another break of 67 made it 2-2 at the mid-session interval despite Ding's best efforts to fight on for snookers.
The 22-year-old went back in front with a 63 in the fifth but Higgins then took a 56-minute frame on the black with a great pot to middle from tight against the top cushion to pull back to 3-3.
The reigning world champion was on course to go into the lead for the first time in the next but inexplicably missed a red on 45 and Ding cleared to the black to edge ahead once again.
Higgins bounced back though in the next with an 80 - his highest of the session - to set up a finely balanced finale, squaring the match at 4-4 before the interval.
Both players missed early chances to take the opening frame of the evening session but it was Ding who eventually took it when Higgins missed a routine black in dislodging a red from the side cushion.
A run of 42 helped Higgins take the 10th frame but, following the pattern of the match, Ding took the next with a 50 break.
The two remained inseparable by the end of the 12th frame as Higgins recorded a 91 before the mid-session interval.
That intermission broke the sequence at long last as Higgins went in front for the first time with two frames in succession; Ding responded well with a 74 to make it 7-7.
He then took the following two error-strewn frames to move within one of victory before Higgins recorded the first century of the match (115) to claw back to 9-8.
Ding showed mental strength in the final contest with a contribution of 75 to claim the match and UK title.
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