UK Championship: China's 'adopted son' Ronnie O'Sullivan relishing meeting with Ding Junhui

Ding Junhui Ronnie O'Sullivan
Ding Junhui and Ronnie O'Sullivan are two of snooker's most popular characters
Betway UK Championship
Venue: York Barbican Dates: 26 November-8 December
Coverage: Watch live across BBC Two, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, Connected TV, the BBC Sport website and mobile app from 30 November

Ronnie O'Sullivan says China's snooker-obsessed fans will feel like they are watching their "adopted son" take on their "real son" when he faces national hero Ding Junhui at the York Barbican.

Seven-time champion O'Sullivan faces the world number 16 in the fourth round of the UK Championship on Thursday afternoon.

Ding, 32, has a vast following in his homeland and millions are expected to tune in on television.

"I have a really good following in China, with great support," said world number two O'Sullivan.

"I love my time out there. I am like their adopted son in China, so it will be the real son against the adopted son.

"He is playing well, cueing well and there should be a few people watching in China."

O'Sullivan, who turns 44 on the day of the game, has been in superb form to reach the last 16, dropping just two frames in beating Ross Bulman, Tian Pengfei and Noppon Saengkham.

Ding has also impressed, particularly in scoring two centuries and five breaks of more than 50 in his 6-4 win over Ali Carter in round three.

But the two-time UK champion's only victory over O'Sullivan in their eight previous meetings came in a 13-10 success in the quarter-finals of the 2017 World Championship.

This year's action from the Crucible, the sport's showpiece event, had a total reach of more than 200 million people on television in China, a figure based on viewers watching for at least one minute.

"It's a special match for me. I want to play him," Ding said. "It is a great to play each other and I want to win because I have lost most of the matches.

"It is huge. You cannot imagine how many people will be watching and they all support me. I hope I can make it happen. It will be a great match.

"He's looking to defend his title. I will try to be relaxed and show what I can do. He has the most support in the UK and lots in China, but not more than me."

O'Sullivan is aiming to win a record-extending eighth UK crown on Sunday, which would take him to 37 ranking titles and above Stephen Hendry to the top of the all-time list.

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