Ding Junhui has revealed the young generation of Chinese snooker players have “pushed” him on to “work hard” as he reached the final of the UK Championship.
Ding held off a late fightback from Tom Ford to win 6-3 and has a chance to win a fourth UK Championship title, which would also be his first ranking title since 2019 which also took place in York.
During that period, several Chinese players have burst onto the scene including Zhao Xintong, Yan Bingtao and Zhou Yuelong.
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“The other Chinese boys are playing well which has pushed me to work hard and concentrate more and win more matches,” Ding said in the Eurosport studio. “There are very talented players.
"Sometimes we push them too fast. They will win big games such as beating Ronnie (O'Sullivan) and higher ranked players and they think they can win the tournament.
“But it takes time to improve. You need to stay on the tour and learn more things. Then when the time comes, like Xintong who wins tournaments, he’s on a top level and knows what to do when he’s in the semi-finals or finals.
“A lot of Chinese players are getting better now. It’s important to enjoy things too.”
Fortune and brilliant red into middle sets up Ding for big break in Frame 4
Ding on the brink of getting back into top 16
Ding, who whitewashed Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals, will play Jack Lisowski or Mark Allen in the final on Sunday in York.
Should the 35-year-old win, he will return to the top 16 and secure a spot in The Masters.
“I feel great,” said Ding. “It’s three seasons that I haven’t done anything good. All week I’ve been playing good and I feel well.
“Some tournaments are like match practice. The other tournaments keep me sharp.
“I’m just lucky here, I love to play at the Barbican.”
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Ford was 5-0 down, and looked set to face a whitewash but dug deep and made it 5-3.
He was on course to put serious pressure on Ding when on course to make a 147 in the ninth frame, as well as getting within one frame of his opponent, but missed a simple red.
‘Oh my goodness me’ – Ford misses easy red when on course for 147
The world No. 32 admits he lost his concentration on the pot and was annoyed at how he played in the first half of the match.
“I couldn’t get going,” Ford said. “I just kept on losing the white ball and falling out of position then took one too many shots on.
“It’s frustrating because all week I’ve felt terrible but managed to get through matches and against Joe Perry I felt great.
“Going into that match [against Ding] I felt good it’s the best I’ve felt but it’s the worst I’ve felt.
“I’ve had a good week though. If someone told me I would get to the final four I would snap their arm off.”
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