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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 February, 2004, 06:48 GMT
Ding tipped for snooker stardom
Ding Junhui
Ding took up snooker when he was nine
A new teenage sensation is taking snooker by storm in his debut in the Masters tournament at Wembley.

Ding Junhui, who is just 16 and is playing on the major circuit for the first time, is already being tipped as a star by some of the biggest names in the snooker world.

"I believe Ding will be world champion one day," said Ronnie O'Sullivan.

Ding, the youngest ever player to compete at the Conference Centre in the 29-year history of the competition, defeated world number 16 Joe Perry, from Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, 6-3 on Monday.

I have been playing the game for pretty much 20 years now and I have never seen anything like it
Peter Ebdon
But on Tuesday night he took on world number five Stephen Lee in the second round and was defeated 6-5.

Snooker is very popular in China and Ding took up the game at the age of nine when he had nothing to do at his home in Shanghai.

"I was playing on a full-sized table a few months later," he said.

He turned professional four years ago.

Ding now lives and trains with former world champion Peter Ebdon at Rushden in Northamptonshire.

"He is an outstanding talent," Ebdon said.

"I have been playing the game for pretty much 20 years now and I have never seen anything like it."

Veteran BBC commentator Clive Everton, who has seen many young players, thinks Ding is special.

"He has made an absolutely stunning debut on a major stage.

Ding Junhui
BBC commentator Clive Everton says Ding's debut has been stunning
"He has proved that he can handle with a big area, a big occasion and also a world class opponent in Joe Perry, who is number 16."

Ding left school in China at the age of 13 and is now the main breadwinner for his family.

They will be delighted with their son, who received a wild card invitation to the tournament and was already guaranteed to win 9,500, despite his defeat on Tuesday.

The snooker sensation, who now practices up to eight hours a day, admits: "Sometimes it is tiring.

"But I have to push myself if I want to become world champion one day."


SEE ALSO:
Live: Wembley Masters
03 Feb 04  |  Snooker
Ding wins on debut
02 Feb 04  |  Snooker
Masters 2004: Player profiles
30 Jan 04  |  Snooker



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