Defending champion Ding Junhui bemoans ‘unplayable’ table after surprise defeat

Ding Junhui fumed over an “unplayable” table after his title defence at the UK Championships was ended by David Grace in the second round.

Ding lost the final three frames as Grace, a 2015 semi-finalist, rallied for a shock 6-5 victory.

It continued an unhappy week for Ding, who earlier this week suggested he could withdraw from the tournament in Milton Keynes if fans were allowed back in to the venue.

After defeat, he turned his focus on the tables.

“He played very well…[but] I am just bad. The table was unplayable,” he told Eurosport.

“You can see the blue at 4-3 up, it was miles away from my position. I like to play on the practice table, not that.

“New table, new cloth, new balls, we have no reason to find the wrong things. Like buying a new car and you have a problem – why buy a new car?”

While the prospect of some fans potentially being allowed in to the tournament – in line with the latest Government rules – is no longer a concern for Ding this week, he said he may sit out the Masters in January if he was not happy with Covid-19 protocols.

“I’m not sure, I can’t tell now,” he said. “There are still a couple of months to go so we will see what happens.

Ding Junhui
Ding Junhui

“If they think it is safe they will not make that decision to let in 1,000 people. We know it’s not safe but what? Money? It’s all they care about.”

In the evening session, Judd Trump became only the fourth player in history to reach 750 centuries as he beat Dominic Dale.

Dale took the first frame but Trump made a break of 109 to take the second and join Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Stephen Hendry in reaching the milestone.

After Trump went 5-1 up, Dale rallied to 5-3 and was leading 44-0 before a miscue allowed Trump to step in and advance.

Higgins was in action himself, easing to a 6-3 win over Gerard Greene.

Neil Robertson also progressed to the last 32 as he made three breaks of 130-plus to ease to a 6-1 rout of Chris Wakelin.

World number one @judd147t is into the third round of the @Betway UK Championship!

Tonight, he reached 7️⃣5️⃣0️⃣ career centuries, then made his 751st 💪

📺💻📱 BBC Sport / Eurosport

— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) November 28, 2020

The world number three will now face Li Hang in the next round after his 6-3
win over Zhao Xintong.

Last year’s beaten finalist Stephen Maguire defeated Stuart Carrington 6-4, while Jimmy White made a swift exit in a 6-1 defeat to Zhou Yuelong.