The lights went out on Ding Junhui’s Masters campaign before it got going with the Sheffield potter blaming his first round defeat to Shaun Murphy on an extended Christmas break.
In a bizarre turn of events, Junhui’s match at Alexandra Palace was delayed for 80 minutes after a power cut. It didn’t affect the world No.3 initially however, starting in electrifying fashion by snaring the first two frames.
And at that point the 2011 champion seemed on his way to turning round his dismal recent run in the tournament. But as the match grew more error strewn Murphy seized control, clinching the last four frames to win 6-4 and leave Junhui ruing his prolonged Christmas holiday in China. “I didn’t play well” he admitted.
“I think I wasn’t ready for this tournament because I came back from China late,” he said.
“I needed to spend less time in China and I think it affected me. But I lost and now it doesn’t matter.
“I had chances to win and started well but a few good frames do not win you matches. I just didn’t take those chances.”
Junhui has enjoyed a stellar season to date, bagging the Shanghai Masters, Indian Open and the International Championship to make him one of the sport’s most in-form players.
His winless streak at the Masters has coincided with a venue switch from Wembley Arena to ‘Ally Pally’ but he admits all he can do now is look forward to the German Masters at the end of the month.
“I can win at Wembley but I don’t think I can at this place, I don’t like it,” he joked.
“I now need to prepare better for the next tournament.”
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