TELFORD // China's Ding Junhui became the most successful snooker player from the Far East when he defeated John Higgins in the final of the UK Championship 10-8 on Sunday night. Junhui, also UK champion in 2005, won three of the last four frames to claim his fourth ranking event title. He also became the most successful player from the Far East as he overtook James Wattana's tally of three.
A six-and-a-half-hour match was resolved when Junhui put together a break of 75 in the last frame that left Higgins needing snookers. Earlier, the Chinese player had runs of 74 and 67 (twice) but Higgins had the highest breaks of the final, a 115, 91, 81, 80 and 69. At the first interval the scores were level at 4-4 and when play resumed the final was locked again at 5-5, 6-6 and 7-7 before Junhui went on to lead by two for the first time.
From 9-7, Higgins closed to 9-8 with his century but while he had won two other matches in the decider in the week, including a 9-8 win over Ronnie O'Sullivan in the semi-finals, he could not do the same this time. "Ding's safety was exceptional. I missed three balls in the closing frames and that was unforgivable," said Higgins. One of those was the brown in frame 15, an easy shot that Higgins made a mess of and instead of leading 8-7 he found himself one down as Junhui swept in the last four colours to lead 8-7 on the black.
Junhui described the win as the best of his career. "My concentration is so much better these days but I do need to improve on some of my shot selections," he said. "Every year I try to win the World Championship, but now I'm a much better player and perhaps 2010 could be my year." firstname.lastname@example.org