Ding Junhui, born April 1, 1987 (some sources say 4 March) is a Chinese snooker player, born in Yixing, Jiangsu (near Shanghai), and is now a resident of England during the snooker season.
Ding started playing snooker at the age of nine, when, out of boredom, he joined his father and his friends in a game. He practises the game for eight hours every day, and in 2003 he became the number one ranked player in China.
Ding shot to international prominence in 2002, when he won the Asian under-21 championship, the Asian Championship, and the IBSF World under-21 championship. He was unable to progress much in 2003, as both the Asian Championship and under-21 Championship had to be cancelled because of the SARS virus crisis, but he was a semi-finalist in the IBSF World under-21 championship, and was awarded a Main Tour concession by the World Snooker Association which enabled him to turn professional in September 2003.
In February 2004, Ding was awarded a wildcard entry to the Masters in London, where, in the first round, he defeated the then world no. 16-ranked player (currently no. 14), Joe Perry, before narrowly losing 6-5 in the second round to experienced top player Stephen Lee after holding a 2-5 lead over him. His performance favourably impressed many commentators, who since then rated him a likely future World Champion.
In March 2005, he celebrated his 18th birthday by reaching the final of the China Open in Beijing, along the way defeating world top-16 ranked players Peter Ebdon, Marco Fu and Ken Doherty. He played the final with world no-3 ranked Stephen Hendry, whom he beat by nine frames to five to score his first ranking tournament win: a major surprise really.
In December 2005, he beat another crop of world top-16 players, namely Jimmy White, Paul Hunter and Joe Perry once more on his way to reaching the final of another major tournament, the UK Championship at the Barbican Centre in York. This time he met the resurgent snooker legend Steve Davis in the final, and defeated him by ten frames to six, in doing so becoming the first player from outside Britain or Ireland to win that particular title. Following this victory, his world ranking was provisionally raised from 60 (62 at the start of the season) to 31. A top-32 ranking would ensure he does not have to pre-qualify for various tournaments, and will only have to win one match to reach the World Championships in Sheffield). His official world ranking for the new season is 27th.