Ding Junhui, a fine talent whose form has been maddeningly inconsistent throughout his career, seems to have found an equilibrium.
He has won the last two major ranking titles, the Shanghai Masters and Indian Open. If he wins the International Championship this week it will be the first time a player has won three on the spin for 23 years.
Stephen Hendry won the 1990 World Championship and then the first four ranking titles of the following season.
Today Ding beat another great of Asian snooker, James Wattana, 6-3 in Chengdu.
He is scoring heavily, playing good safety and keeping both his concentration and discipline intact.
Ding seemed to be under pressure in China these last few years, feeling perhaps the expectations of his many supporters. But his Shanghai triumph has eased that and he now looks relaxed and ready for more silverware.
He’s cooler now that he’s older, the teenage immaturity a thing of the past. I remember very early in his career when he was playing in the world qualifiers at Prestatyn. He went behind at the final interval, came into the players’ room and literally threw his cue on the floor, thankfully not damaging it.
A friend of his calmed him with a ripe tomato, although this ultimately did not lead to victory.
It all seems a long time ago. Ding is now a top player in every sense and also a joy to watch in full flight.
He next plays Matthew Stevens, who secured a morale boosting 6-2 victory over John Higgins earlier today to reach the last 16.