Ding Junhui explains reason behind form struggles this season ahead of China Open challenge
Ding Junhui is hoping to get back to his best on the snooker table after adjusting to fatherhood over the last few months.
The 32-year-old became a dad for the first time in August last year when his wife, Apple, gave birth to a baby girl.
It has been a tricky season on the baize for the Chinese star, failing to reach a single ranking semi-final, and no finals in a tournament of any sort.
The world number nine has admitted that becoming a father has been challenging, but is ready to get back on track at this week’s China Open.
‘It’s a new challenge for me,’ said Ding. ‘I think being a father is harder than playing snooker at the moment.
‘I’d like to carry my daughter with me traveling around the world next season.
‘I’ve put some extra work in preparation with my coach for the China Open, which always holds a special place in my heart. Hopefully, I can finish the season strongly with the best performance this year in Beijing.’
Ding is back at the tournament that announced him as a star of the sport all the way back in 2005 when he lifted the trophy in Beijing at just 18-years-old.
He won the event again in 2014 and is hoping to become the third man to win the tournament three times, after Mark Selby and Mark Williams.
WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson believes it is only a matter of time before Ding is back to his very best.
‘This is a big change in his life and I am sure over time he will settle and bounce back,’ said Ferguson.
‘I am not concerned at all because for a snooker player he’s still very young. The mind gets stronger with age.
‘Form will come and go over a long period of time but the class he has will never leave.’
Ding got his challenge underway in Beijing with a comfortable 6-1 victory in his held over qualifying match against Zhang Jiankang on Monday, he now takes on James Wattana in the first round.