Tuesday 17 Jan 2017 04:55PM
Marco Fu continued the form he showed in winning last month’s Scottish Open as he beat Judd Trump 6-5 in a sensational first round clash at the Dafabet Masters.
The Alexandra Palace crowd were treated to another thrilling contest – the third consecutive afternoon match to go to a deciding frame. And this was the best of the lot in terms of standard as the two players fired a remarkable five centuries and nine more breaks over 50 in the 11 frames.
Trump looked to be cruising at 3-0 up but he was eventually eclipsed by a stunning Fu fight back. The world number eight from Hong Kong played arguably the best snooker of his career in Glasgow last month, winning his third ranking title by beating John Higgins 9-4 in the final, and on today’s evidence he will be a danger again this week.
Fu, whose only Masters final appearance came in 2011 when he lost to Ding Junhui , now faces Mark Allen on Thursday evening (tickets still available – click here for details).
Bristol’s Trump made a break of 102 to win the opening frame, then came from 56-0 down to take the second with an 87 clearance. Fu again had first chance in frame three but his 64 was not good enough as Trump cleared superbly with 67.
Fu ignited his revival with 130 and 88 to get back to 3-2, then Trump’s 79 gave him frame six. In the seventh, Trump lead 63-10 only for Fu to make a 58 clearance which started with a doubled red to a centre pocket.
The high scoring continued as Fu made 110 for 4-4 then Trump edged ahead with a 112. World number four Trump had his match-winning chance in frame ten but he missed the black off its spot on 36, and Fu duly punished him with 80 for 5-5.
A fluked red gave Fu the first chance of the decider and he made 22 before running out of position. After a brief safety exchange, a fantastic long red from Fu set up another chance and this time there was no mistake as he finished in style with 102.
“I haven’t played a lot better than this in my career,” said 39-year-old Fu. “It’s one of the best wins of my career, the way it was going when I was 3-0 down against a top class player. He played very well, he didn’t give it away. I think I earned it at the end, so it’s up there.
“It was a relief because I did it the hard way. I was 3-1 down at the interval and it was difficult to handle the disappointment. But I’m very pleased that I played much better after that, I took my chances and I was very relieved I got over the line.
“I was a little nervous coming into this match. I wanted to keep the good form going after Scotland but this is a different tournament. The Masters always gives you some nerves. I think everyone will suffer from it.
“At 3-0 down I still knew I could do damage if I got chances. The table is playing lovely. When the table’s like this, it helps all of us to play well.
“I’m very happy that I’m still in the tournament because the way it was going, I could have been going home today. Now I’m looking forward to my next match against Mark.”
That’s some stats!
Tuesday 17 Jan 2017 10:21PM
Neil Robertson made a strong start to his Dafabet Masters campaign with a 6-3 win over Ali Carter, setting up a mouth-watering quarter-final with Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Robertson’s form has been inconsistent in recent months and he lost in the first round of the UK Championship in November. The Australian regained sharpness at the Championship League last week and will look to add to his silverware collection in the second half of the season.
First he faces a potentially epic clash against crowd favourite O’Sullivan at Alexandra Palace on Thursday at 1pm (tickets still available, click here for details). Their last Masters meeting came at the semi-final stage in 2015 when Robertson won 6-1.
World number seven Robertson won the opening frame tonight with a break of 85, and he led 49-0 in the second only for Carter to take it with an 83 clearance. Robertson then regained control of the contest and won the next three frames with runs of 78, 49 and 69.
Carter fought back to 4-3 thanks to breaks of 73 and 93. But his hopes of an upset were soon ended as Robertson took the next two frames with 73 and 117. In fact in the last frame he could have made 144 to set a formidable target for the £10,000 high break prize, but he ran out of position on the final yellow.
“I enjoy playing Ali, he’s a wonderful player,” said 2012 Masters champion Robertson. “He scores heavy when he’s in and he plays the game properly. I’m better against top players who don’t make it scrappy. I was really put under pressure at 4-3, the way he came back. To finish it off the last two frames the way I did was very pleasing.
“I was pretty annoyed I didn’t make the high break, but I was glad all the hard work that I did over Christmas worked and to put it in a performance like that was really satisfying.
“Usually I have a break over Christmas for about three weeks. But I kept practising. I was in Norway so I practised on Kurt Maflin’s table, and then played the Championship League, heading into this. I made a lot of big breaks there so I knew my game was in really good shape. My long potting’s never been better, my scoring’s never been better. It’s just a matter of being patient and eventually the performance will come.
“It’s going to be an unbelievable atmosphere against Ronnie. It’s different playing him here than to the Crucible. The amount of support he gets and the crowd’s encouraged will be a bit noisier here which is fantastic. It’s a wonderful venue, an amazing tournament with incredible history. I’m going to have to be at my best to beat him on Thursday.”
Well … let’s hope Ronnie will be over the flu by Thursday, if he is it should be a great match!