Davis offers Ding friendly advice


Published: Sunday 19th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Steve Davis has told Betfred World Championship under-achiever Ding Junhui he can triumph at the Crucible with a little help from his friends.

China’s star potter begins his ninth mission to land snooker’s biggest prize when he plays Mark Davis on Monday.

And while only Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Williams and John Higgins among his rivals in Sheffield have won more major ranking events, Ding has been unable to match that trio by snatching the world title.

The 28-year-old has yet to even reach a final of snooker’s blue riband tournament, with a run to the semi-finals in 2011 still his best achievement.

Davis powered to six Crucible titles in the 1980s, with manager and best friend Barry Hearn always by his side.

He suggests Ding follows that lead, to ease what has appeared an overbearing weight on his shoulders as China expects great things.

“Sometimes you can complicate things by over-analysing, doing too much, having too many people around you,” Davis told Press Association Sport.

“He could do with having a mate with him, like me and Barry, having a good laugh as much as you can between matches, and trying to enjoy the challenge rather than try too hard.”

“With Ding, you felt he was going to go from strength to strength and push the barriers up, but you don’t know when you’re going to hit a brick wall or a ceiling and he’s hit a ceiling where he hasn’t been able to dominate.”

This year has been one of struggle for Asian snooker’s standard bearer, with Ding suffering a rash of first-round exits before recently reaching the China Open semi-finals.

“When he beat me in the 2005 UK Championship final, I did feel he was going to become the player that everyone couldn’t beat,” Davis said.

“What I would say in his defence is that unlike other sports like golf or tennis where they don’t have a World Championship as much as majors or grand slams, we have one tournament a year called the World Championship, and to be able to try to guarantee victory in one event is quite difficult. You can’t really.

“It might be that he’s under too much pressure from back home. He’s never got the balance right, so we all keep waiting for it to happen.

“I would still be astonished if the first Chinese world champion wasn’t him, but it could happen.

“The trouble is that the harder you try, the worse it gets. The modern-day way is to go down the road of sports psychologists with a view to getting yourself ready for it, mind, body and soul.”

Published: Sunday 19th April 2015 by The News Editor

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