Snooker: Junhui bids to retain Welsh title

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DING Junhui is hoping to repeat some happy Newport memories at next week’s Welsh Open to finally get his season off the ground.

Despite seeing his world ranking rise two places to ninth from the end of last season, Junhui has struggled when it has mattered most, failing to make it past the second round of any ranking tournament.

At the UK Championships China’s most successful-ever player was beaten in the first round by Ryan Day and lightning struck twice last month as eventual runner-up Neil Robertson repeated the trick at the Masters.

This slippery slope an all-too familiar story for the Sheffield-based potter who dropped seven places during the last campaign, however the one bright spot came with victory at the 2012 Welsh Open with a 9-6 victory over Mark Selby.

And with Selby the man who knocked him out of last week’s German Masters, Junhui is hoping to once again make Newport Centre a happy home away from home to dish out some revenge.

“This season hasn’t gone that well. I have been a bit unlucky at times. I feel as if I have been playing OK,” he said. “I just need to keep practising and doing the right things and if I do that, I can win at least one major title this season. Maybe at the Crucible – that’s the big one.

“I played well in every match last year in Newport. I had a really tough match against John Higgins early in the week but came through it and that was the bit of luck you need sometimes. I stayed focussed all the way through.

“Mark Selby is always very hard to beat because he never gives up and doesn’t make many mistakes. In the final I had to try my hardest on every shot.

“Mark is the best player at the moment.”

* British Eurosport is the Home of Snooker, showing 19 tournaments this season including the World Championship, UK Championship, the Masters and all ranking events, available on Sky (410/411) and Virgin Media (521/525) or online/on mobile via eurosportplayer.co.uk