Ding: Poomjaeng could conquer world
Dechawat Poomjaeng, pictured, is a contender to win the title, according to Ding Junhui
Ding Junhui has claimed his "crazy" friend Dechawat Poomjaeng can prove he is far from a one-match wonder by landing the Betfair World Championship title.
The manner of the Thai newcomer's stunning debut win against world number five Stephen Maguire remained the talk of the Crucible, and Ding knows him well as both men live and practise in Sheffield. Few, if any, players have made quite the impact that 70th-ranked Poomjaeng managed during his first appearance on snooker's biggest stage.
Maguire was more bemused than angered by his opponent's antics, as 34-year-old Poomjaeng joked along with the crowd, grinning his way through the first-round match, offering theatrical apologies at the slightest bit of good fortune, applauding his own shots and even appearing to take on some balls with his eyes closed.
In the deciding frame he knocked over the water next to his chair and referee Michaela Tabb had to mop up the spillage.
Poomjaeng was painstakingly slow at the table, but his quirky ways meant that was almost overlooked.
Chinese ace Ding said: "I knew that he would have a chance because I know he's a strong player and he likes to fight for every ball. You can see him play slowly and concentrate very carefully on every ball. I don't know how he can do that.
"Also, he's crazy, a funny guy. He's crazy all the time. It wouldn't be a surprise to me if he won the title. It wouldn't be a good time to play him at the moment."
Welsh qualifier Michael White awaits Poomjaeng in the second round, in a match that begins on Thursday night and finishes on Saturday morning.
White's compatriot Dominic Dale was an intrigued observer on Tuesday night, with the world number 23 saying: "He beat me in the Six Reds World Championship in Thailand last year, in the same sort of way.
"He has this cocksure attitude about him and I didn't like it at the time because I lost. I can understand that it might rile certain opponents. He gets into other players' heads quite innocently and it's to his advantage."