Joe Perry upsets UK champion Ding Junhui in first round of the Masters
By Harry Gray
Joe Perry says he is relishing being involved in this year’s Masters after he shocked Ding Junhui in the opening match of the tournament.
UK champion Ding was far from his best and Perry made the most of his opponent’s off-colour display to secure a 6-3 victory at Alexandra Palace.
As the lowest-ranked player in the competition, Perry was unfancied heading into the match but produced a fluent display which left him in an understandably buoyant mood.
“I didn’t think I would ever play in this event again because of the way the ranking system works where you need to be winning events to make the top 16,” Perry said.
“I am consistent but have never been a regular winner, so I thought I was probably not going to break into the top 16. Just to be here is a big buzz for me and I am going to enjoy this moment.”
Despite making an early break of 135, Ding never really found any level of consistency and breaks of 71, 93 and 83 allowed Perry to secure victory.
The 45-year-old, who was a finalist at the Masters in 2017, really hit his stride after the interval and believes the break in play provided the perfect tonic to a nervy start.
“The second half performance was much better than the first and I missed a couple of easy balls early on. I don’t really know how I missed them, but I started over-thinking and the interval came at the perfect time,” he said.
“I kept getting in front then couldn’t follow it up. He gave me some chances after the break and I knew I had to make the most of them.
“From then on I just felt really, really confident and like I was in control of everything.”
Perry, who trains in Cambridge, made the most of Ding’s failings to secure victory and showed a ruthless side which will serve him well if he is to continue to surprise.
He acknowledged Ding was not at his best, but nonetheless believes he can take great confidence from a display which kept his 32-year-old opponent at bay.
Perry said: “Ding is one of the best players in the world and has been at the top for a very, very long time.
“He has his moments when he is out of form, but when he is on his game, he is pretty much unplayable.
“If you draw a top player like that and he is playing as well as he can, you are really up against it. If they do miss one or two shots, you have to take your chance and luckily, I did that today. It gives you confidence to go on.”
Watch the London Masters LIVE on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with analysis from Ronnie O'Sullivan, Jimmy White and Neal Foulds
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