LONDON: Chinese star Ding Junhui insists he will win the World Championship one day despite crashing to a painful 13-5 quarter-final defeat against Barry Hawkins.
Ding, 31, had been ranked as title favourite at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre after the first-round exit of defending champion Mark Selby and the second-round departure of five-time champion Ronnie O'Sullivan.
But Hawkins, who beat Ding in 2013 on the way to a runners-up finish in the World Championship, led 11-5 overnight and clinically rounded off the victory by taking the first two frames on offer on Wednesday.
The 39-year-old Englishman finished with a flourish with a superb break of 117 - his second century of the encounter - to earn himself a semi-final spot for the fourth time in the past five editions.
However, Ding, whose best performance at the worlds is losing to Selby in the 2016 final, insisted that despite falling short he would eventually lift the trophy.
"I believe I can still win this one day," he said at a press conference. "I'll always keep up my hopes and I'll never give up. I'm a sportsman, I can't give up."
Ding, who had been magnificent in his second round match destroying promising Scotsman Anthony McGill 13-4, was philosophical about his under-performing against Hawkins.
"Some days you play well, some days are different," said Ding. "I tried to play well and score heavily but what can I say? It wasn't working out there."
Hawkins, who faces either two-time champion Mark Williams or Ali Carter in the semi-finals, said Ding had perhaps wilted under the weight of expectation back in China.
"I punished him every time he made a mistake and when someone is doing that against you, it is easy to miss a few," said Hawkins.
"I managed to keep him under pressure. And there is a lot of pressure on his shoulders too.
"Winning 6-2 last night was huge and I am happy to get over the line. I felt like he gave up at the end."
Williams was a 13-8 winner against Ali Carter, who had knocked out O'Sullivan earlier in the tournament.
Hawkins' compatriot Kyren Wilson will face Judd Trump or John Higgins after beating Mark Allen 13-6.
Trailing 11-5, Allen kept his hopes alive with breaks of 54 and 40 in the opening frame.
But Wilson took the next two to gain a measure of revenge for losing to the Northern Irishman in the Masters final in January.
Quadruple champion Higgins, the beaten finalist last year, is all square with Judd Trump 8-8 in a repeat of the 2011 final which the Scotsman won.