I'm the man to fear in Sheffield, Chinese snooker player Ding says
China's Ding Junhui reckons he is the opponent that snooker's top players will least want to face in the first round of the World Championship.
Ding was obliged to come through qualifying for the sport's premier tournament after slipping to 17th in the world rankings.
But he lost just seven frames in winning three best-of-19-frame matches, including a 10-2 victory over 1995 losing finalist Nigel Bond on Wednesday at Sheffield's Ponds Forge, close to the World Championships home at the city's Crucible Theatre, that booked Ding's place in the main 32-man draw.
It is only two years since Ding, now 29, won a record-equalling five major professional tournaments in the one campaign and he said: "They don't want to play me. It doesn't matter who I play.
"I was facing pressure to get back to the Crucible because I didn't want to miss the chance to play at the World Championship."
Ding has called on the services of 1979 world champion Terry Griffiths to help him improve his game and believes the Welshman's advice has led to an improved attitude around the table.
"Bad things and good things are always happening," Ding said.
"From last season, before I started work with Terry Griffiths, I had lost a lot of confidence. I lacked confidence to play any tournament. After Terry told me how to work on my mind, I started playing well and thinking well, and that's been the difference.
"I was upset a lot. After winning five ranking tournaments and losing to lower-ranking players... there's nobody guaranteed to win but I think I'm favourite to win and that's what I need to learn. Terry's told me to change my thinking because you're not guaranteed to beat anybody."
Scotland's Anthony McGill who reached the quarter-finals on his debut last year, also defeated Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in the final qualifying round.
In Tuesday's opening session, the Thai player missed the final black he needed to complete a maximum 147 break, having had the same thing happen to him at the UK Championship four months ago.
"His head was in his hands at the side of the table and you feel really bad for him, but only for a minute," said McGill.
"I've only got good memories of the Crucible. I've not played there long enough to have bad memories and hopefully I won't have any bad ones from this year."
© 2016 AFP