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Ronnie O’Sullivan says ‘proper player’ Ding Junhui a ‘joy to watch’ in UK Championship whitewash

Ronnie O’Sullivan was full of praise for “top player” Ding Junhui following his 6-0 loss to the Chinese star in the quarter-finals of the UK Championship.

Despite having a poor record against O’Sullivan, Ding was full value for the win as he grew in confidence as the match progressed at the Barbican Centre in York.

O’Sullivan was way short of his best, and admitted to feeling a little flat and needing a break, but he had positive words for Ding.

“I am pleased for Ding, he played really well and it is lovely to see him playing like that,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport. “It is a joy to watch.

“It is great for the game. When you put a player like that in those conditions, with that crowd, he will thrive on it.

“It is nice to see him play well. It is good for the game. He is a proper player.”

Ding’s slump in form started following his victory at the 2019 UK Championship, he beat O’Sullivan on the way to the title that year, but he looked near his best against the current world champion – and the Rocket revealed he told the 35-year-old to go all the way and win Triple Crown event for a fourth time.

“He’s a class act,” O’Sullivan said. “Afterwards I just said to him ‘you played great, go and win it, get the job done.’

“I think we’re all Ding fans.“

Reflecting on his own performance, O’Sullivan suggested it was a case of going to the well once too often following a busy spell which yielded wins at the Hong Kong Masters and Champion of Champions, and will look forward to getting to work in the Eurosport studio.

“A nice bit of punditry now,” O’Sullivan said. “I am just relieved it is over now.

“I have played a lot of snooker and am a bit flat I suppose.

“It was just one of those days, what can you do? Thirty years I’ve been at this game, I’ve taken a few knocks along the way.”

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Stream the 2022 UK Championship and more top snooker action live and on-demand on discovery+. You can also watch Seventh Heaven, a two-part show about Ronnie O’Sullivan’s historic World Championship win last season, on demand now.

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