Sunday sees the first ever snooker ranking event final contested between two Chinese players as Ding Junhui faces Xiao Guodong in the Shanghai Masters final.
For years now, the sports has drawn on the attention of the Far East and now that interest has finally come to fruition as two players from China will bid to bid to become this year’s Shanghai Masters champion.
Ding Junhui’s Runto the Final
China’s number one snooker player first came to fruition in 2005, when he scooped the 2005 China Open title after beating the legendary Stephen Hendry in the final.
He’d originally entered the tournament as a wildcard but beat the likes of Peter Ebdon, Marco Fu and Ken Doherty to reach the final.
Since then, he’s become the most coveted Chinese player in the sport, picking up no less than five more ranking titles.
The titles have also seen him become one of the most celebrated sporting faces in China and have inspired many youngsters from his homeland to pick up a cue and pursue a career in snooker.
Ding has picked up the UK Championship in 2005 and 2009, the now defunct Northern Ireland Trophy in 2006, plus the 2012 Welsh Open and most recently last season’s PTC Grand Finals title where he produced a faultless display to battle back from 3-0 down to beat Neil Robertson 4-3 in the final.
He started this week’s Shanghai Masters in equally good fashion, easily seeing off Tamworth’s David Gilbert, a player who has been in really good form recently.
He’s since beaten a number of accomplished players in the shape of Shaun Murphy, Neil Robertson and most recently Barry Hawkins, who he defeated in Saturday’s semi-final.
With his experience, Ding will certainly be the player to beat in Sunday’s final.
Xiao Guodong’s Rise to Fame
Before this week, Xiao Guodong’s name was a relative unknown to anyone else bar the hardcode set of snooker fanatics.
However the 27-year-old has actually been a professional since the 2007-08 season, and despite falling off the tour at the end of that campaign, regained his place in 2009 and has built on that ever since.
Recently, he’s cemented his place in the upper-echelons of the world rankings, re-enforced by his progress to the Quarter=Finals of both the 2012 and 2013 PTC Grand Finals in Galway, Ireland.
And this week, the young Chinese has shown some gutsy performances to make it through to0 the final in Shanghai. He firstly defeated world number five Stephen Maguire before seeing off experienced professional Peter Lines.
He then beat an in-form Mark Davis in the quarters before defeating Michael Holt 6-3 in Saturday’s semis to book his spot in the final.
The run now means he’s China’s second highest ranked player behind Ding, moving above Liang Wenbo.
As you would expect, the more experience world number 12 Ding Junhui is favourite to scoop his seventh ranking event title with
The first session of the final is live on British Eurosport from 7am and you can also watch the concluding session from 1pm on the Eurosport Player or the streaming on the betting sites.
You can check out the latest betting odds for the final with BritBets by clicking HERE.
You can also claim free bets with Stan James by clicking HERE.