The crowd at the Crucible Theatre on Wednesday night witnessed one of the greatest games of snooker as Ding Junhui successfully overcame the late surge of Ronnie O'Sullivan to register his place in the semi-finals of the World Championships.
The five-time champion succumbed to defeat after a brilliant outing from his Chinese counterpart, losing 13-10 in the quarter-finals.
Although O'Sullivan scored a tournament-high break of 146, winning three out of four frames to make a sensational comeback to 11-9, having trailed earlier 10-6, it still wasn't enough for him.
Ding scored a phenomenal 117 at the latter stage to confirm his place into the next round where he will be meeting Mark Selby.
Following the engaging contest, the duo shared a warm embrace as they were seen conversing for a brief period, which was the subject of speculation for the media as well as the snooker faithful.
It was O'Sullivan who revealed what the actually talk was between the pair.
Speaking on the issue, the 41-year-old was quoted by Eurosport saying: "He[Ding] said some nice things to me. And I just said ‘Look, you played like a man there’.
"A few years ago he would have cracked but he didn’t and I said ‘That’s what you have to do to win the title’."
He was highly impressed by the innovative skills of Ding and advised him on what sort of gameplan the Asian ace must adopt to outlast Selby in order to secure the title.
“He’s experienced enough to know that. It’s not that Ding can’t win under pressure, it’s just about having that belief that [Mark] Selby has.
“Selby has an unshaken belief. But if Ding goes behind he is liable to go. Though under pressure at 9-9 he’s as good as anyone, so it’s not as if he can’t handle it – it’s just more of a mental thing.
“I didn’t know what to do [regarding embrace]. But he kind of leant into me and whispered into my ear. So I thought I’d give him a bit of feedback. I love him, he’s such a lovely guy.”
The Rocket was all praise for the talent of Ding Junhui and was pictured congratulating his opponent after the winning frame.
O'Sullivan hopes Ding comes up with a similar performance when he faces off against Selby who has been in incredible form as he thrashed Marco Fu 13-3.
Ding leads Selby 5-3 as of writing this article, while John Higgins and Barry Hawkins are separated by the same scoreline.
Nonetheless, the mutual respect shared among the greatest exponents of the sport lays the platform for the youngsters to learn not only the importance of winning but also hold the opposition in high regard irrespective of the result.
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