Ding wins thriller

The all-Chinese encounter in the first round of the Betfred.com World Snooker Championship did not disappoint its record-breaking audience after Ding Junhui came through a thrilling contest to beat Liang Wenbo.

Ding, the world number 11, will meet seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry in round two after defeating his compatriot Liang 10-8 in front an enthralled crowd at the Crucible in Sheffield and hundreds of millions more watching on television on the other side of the world.

Having led 5-4 overnight, Ding initially looked comfortable and won the opening two frames to go 7-4 ahead.

But Liang played some superb snooker to battle back, taking the next four to give himself an 8-7 lead.

Ding kept his cool and just when it looked like his confidence might crumble, he produced a century break before seeing out the match with a 10 frames to eight victory.

Ding quickly wrapped up a nervy first frame of the day with a break of 58 and although Liang came back well in the next frame with a 52 of his own, he could not finish the job off and after misjudging the angle off a blue, allowed Ding to clear to the pink, putting him three frames ahead as he had been the previous day.

Liang refused to let his opponent pull away and came back to win the next two frames, with a clearance of 77 and a break of 68 meaning that at the mid-session interval things were as they had been at the start of play, with Ding only one frame ahead at 7-6.

And Liang continued where he had left off when the players returned to the table, Ding suffering bad luck with a kick and Liang capitalising to level the match at 7-7.

The left-hander then made it four frames in a row, going ahead for the first time with some stunning play and a 91 break to make it 8-7.

The younger man was firmly in control and Ding, the Chinese number one, was starting to show signs of the strain which comes with knowing about 100 million fans are watching back home.

But having not potted a ball for more than an hour, suddenly the world number 11 got his game together and notched a clearance of 111, his first century break of the contest, to bring things back to all-square at 8-8.

Liang then left a long red on in the 17th from which Ding made a break of 91 to move a frame away from victory.

And after both players missed opportunities to seize the 18th, Ding finally pulled through to clinch the match 10-8.

Progress was slower on the other table, where 2002 World Champion Peter Ebdon was playing the 1995 finalist Nigel Bond.

A cagey opening saw only a solitary point scored between the two players in the first 15 minutes, but Bond eventually came through to take the first frame.

Ebdon hit back with a century break to level, but Bond, on his 15th appearance at the Crucible, regained his advantage and was leading by five frames to two.

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