Confident Ding Excited By Masters

Ding Junhui will be looking to add to his recent haul of trophies when he competes in the Dafabet Masters next week, and is excited by the possibility of an all-Asian clash with Marco Fu.



Ding has been snooker's most successful player so far this season, winning a hat-trick of ranking titles at the Shanghai Masters, Indian Open and International Championship.



All three of those were all-Asian finals with Ding beating China's Xiao Guodong in Shanghai, India's Aditya Mehta in New Delhi and Hong Kong's Fu at the International in Chengdu.



The growing power of Asia in snooker is obvious, with Ding still leading the way, but several others challenging him to be the continent's top player. Fu had the best year of his career in 2013, highlighted by victory at the Australian Goldfields Open.



Ding has won the Masters once before, in 2011 when he beat Fu in the final, but he lost in the first round in 2012 and 2013.



"I am very confident I can achieve more this season," said the 26-year-old Chinese ace. "I have had a good rest for the past three weeks which was very important for me, half-way through the season. It has enabled me to recharge the batteries and I feel fresh to face the challenge ahead.



"The Masters is a very traditional event with a lot of history. It is very important for every player. Only the top 16 can play there, which makes it even more special."



If Ding wins his opening match against Shaun Murphy and Hong Kong's Fu overcomes Judd Trump, the two would meet in the quarter-finals next Thursday at 1pm at Alexandra Palace. Tickets for that session are still on sale - to book call 0871 620 7052 (calls cost 10p per minute, plus network extras) or



"If that happens I hope we will have a fantastic match together," added Ding. "I am sure there will be many big matches between Asia's best players in the coming years. Alexandra Palace is a very good venue, especially the atmosphere as the fans are very passionate. I would love to see many Chinese fans there giving me support."



The tournament runs from January 12 to 19 and also features the likes of Ronnie O'Sullivan, Neil Robertson, Mark Selby and John Higgins.