Chinese snooker superstar Ding Junhui vowed he would be crowned world champion one day despite being outclassed 13-5 by English opponent Barry Hawkins in the quarterfinal of this year’s World Snooker Championship.
Ding, 31, looked far off the player who had been made the favourite to be crowned world champion after the first round exit of defending champion Mark Selby and then the second round departure of the five-time champion “Rocket” Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Hawkins, who beat Ding in 2013 on the way to a surprise appearance in the final where he lost to O’Sullivan, led 11-5 overnight and clinically rounded off the victory taking the first two frames on offer on Wednesday.
Indeed the 39-year-old Englishman finished with a flourish with a superb break of 117 – his second century of the encounter – to earn himself a semifinal spot for the fourth time in the past five editions.
I’ll never give up
However, Ding, whose best performance at the worlds is losing to Selby in the 2016 final, insisted that despite falling short he would eventually lift the trophy.
“I believe I can still win this one day,” he said at a press conference.
“I’ll always keep up my hopes and I’ll never give up. I’m a sportsman, I can’t give up.”
Ding, who had been magnificent in his second round match destroying promising Scotsman Anthony McGill 13-4, was philosophical about his underperforming against Hawkins.
“Some days you play well, some days are different,” said Ding.
“I tried to play well and score heavily but what can I say? It wasn’t working out there.”
Hawkins, who faces either two-time champion Mark Williams or Ali Carter in the semifinals, said Ding had perhaps wilted under the weight of expectation back in China.
“I punished him every time he made a mistake and when someone is doing that against you, it is easy to miss a few,” said Hawkins.
“I managed to keep him under pressure. And there is a lot of pressure on his shoulders too.
“Winning 6-2 last night was huge and I am happy to get over the line. I felt like he gave up at the end.”