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Snooker: Ding feels like 'alien' in world title bid

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Chinese star Ding Junhui revealed he is under so much pressure to win a maiden world title that he wished he had extra-terrestrial powers.

World number nine Ding has never got beyond the semi-finals of the world championships, the 2013 edition of which gets underway on Saturday in Sheffield.

And unlike 2012, when there were four Chinese players in the main draw, Ding will be his country's only representative this time around.

That has only increased the expectations.

"When I play in China, people think I will win every tournament I play in. They say 'it is not impossible - you are human'. I wish I was an alien," the 26-year-old told the BBC.

"But I like to be the first (Chinese player) to set the records. I want to play the best snooker," he said.

Ding begins his 2013 campaign at The Crucible on Saturday against Scotland's Alan McManus.

Ding's best performance at the world championships remains a run to the 2011 semi-finals when he was beaten 17-15 by Judd Trump.

Last year, he lost 10-9 to Welshman Ryan Day in the first round.

"I have pressure to win the world championship and I need to play well to win it, but that is not for me to worry about this time," he added.

Defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan goes into the tournament having taken a year out from the sport to consider his future.

The 37-year-old admits his lack of big-match exposure over the last 12 months could make him a sitting duck.

"It's like my own reality TV show," the four-time champion said.

"It could be car crash, it could be good. You just don't know.

"If I'm cueing all right and feeling all right, then I should be a match for anyone, but who knows?

"The world championship is a one-off event and the form book usually goes out the window."

O'Sullivan faces Marcus Campbell in the first round.

Mark Selby is the bookmakers' favourite having already captured the UK Championship and Masters this year.

The 29-year-old plays Matthew Selt in the first round.

"It's a tough tournament to win. There's a lot of great players in it.

"It's great to have Ronnie back playing as well, so it's going to be tough.

"He's one of the most natural players to ever play our game. If any one player can do it (win after a year out), Ronnie's the person."

dj/cw

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130418/snooker-ding-feels-alien-world-title-bid