2022 Hong Kong Masters – Fu and Higgins win on Day 1

Marco Fu beat Mark Selby by 5-2 in the first match of the tournament (WST report)

Home Hero Fu Downs Selby

Marco Fu delighted the home crowd on day one of the Hong Kong Masters by scoring a 5-2 win over four-time World Champion Mark Selby to clinch his place in the semi-finals.

The three-time ranking event winner from Hong Kong has been through a difficult few years, after eye problems forced him to undergo surgery in 2018 and take a break from the sport. The pandemic followed in 2020 and Fu was unable to compete for almost two seasons due to travel restrictions.

Fu made his return to action at the World Championship earlier this year, but since then he has succumbed to four first round exits and had only secured one match win coming into this week. Today’s very welcome victory earns him a spot in the semi-finals, where he will face either Judd Trump or John Higgins on Saturday night.

The disappointing defeat for Selby will be tempered by the fact that he has shown signs of a return to his best in recent weeks. The Leicester cueman made a superb 147 break at last week’s British Open and was runner-up in the World Mixed Doubles, alongside Rebecca Kenna.

When the players took to the imposing Hong Kong Coliseum this afternoon, it was home favourite Fu who adapted fastest to his surroundings. He made 55 in the opener whilst Selby didn’t trouble the scorers, before claiming the second on the pink with a break of 65 to lead 2-0.

Selby responded by taking the third on the pink, but a loose safety in the fourth allowed Fu to earn a 3-1 advantage heading into the mid-session interval.

After play got back underway, Selby fired in a fine century run of 112 to close within one. However, Fu dominated the sixth frame to move just one from the win at 4-2. He wasted little time in getting over the line, crafting a break of 64 to wrap up the win.

Following the match Fu admitted that he had contemplated the end of his career, in the wake of his eye problems and the pandemic. However, he is hopeful today’s result can act as a springboard to relaunch himself in the sport.

Over the last few years I’ve suffered a lot on the snooker side. After the eye surgery,things weren’t the same and I didn’t play any snooker at all during the pandemic. These kind of wins mean a lot to me. It proves I can still do it in front of this many people against one of the best players in the world. I still have it somewhere in myself. Hopefully it gives me a good platform to play even better for the rest of the season,” said 44-year-old Fu

I feared the worst at one point. I thought after the eye surgery that the end of my career was approaching. I can’t believe that I’m back playing again. I am delighted to be back playing to a decent standard. I’m not saying I’m playing superbly, I’ve had a tough season so far. I played alright today and it is a good start.

It was very very special this afternoon. To a lot of people this is an invitational event, but to me it is more than that. Hong Kong’s snooker fans deserve the chance to see all of the best players coming to play here in a top event. After Covid we have suffered a lot and this is a great opportunity for them to see a world class event. Mark is a top player, so no matter where you beat him, you have to give yourself a bit of credit.

Mark Selby struggled with the conditions apparently. He did make unusual mistakes indeed. He lost the cue ball quite a lot and his safeties weren’t as good and “precise” as usual. Marco however, and later John Higgins and Judd Trump didn’t seem to “suffer” and all three played very well. Maybe jet-lag had more to do with this than the actual conditions.

I am pleased to see Marco playing well again. It’s always sad to see a player forced into retirement because of health issues and I feared that this might happen to Marco.

Here are more images, shared on Weibo, mainly by SuperStars Online

In the evening, John Higgins beat Judd Trump in a high quality match that went to a decider. This is the report by WST:

Higgins Ends Long Wait To Beat Trump

John Higgins beat Judd Trump for the first time in four years, scoring a 5-4 victory to reach the semi-finals of the Hong Kong Masters.

Higgins came into today’s game having lost his previous seven meetings with Trump, in a run which extended back to the 2018 China Championship. Over that period Trump inflicted defeats on Higgins in the 2019 World Championship final, the 2021 Champion of Champions final and three other semi-finals.

In breaking that streak, four-time World Champion Higgins has earned a mouth watering semi-final showdown with home hero Marco Fu on Saturday night. The pair met on Higgins’ home turf in the 2016 Scottish Open final, on that occasion Fu emerged the victor. Higgins will be hoping to turn the tables on his opponent this time around.

Glasgow’s Higgins will be hoping he can cash in on this evening’s victory and land a first major title since the 2021 Players Championship, which was staged over a year ago. The 31-time ranking event winner showed great consistency last season by making five major finals, but ended as runner-up on each occasion.

It was Higgins who edged a 26-minute opening frame this evening, before an emphatic response from Trump. The Ace in the Pack fired in a superb 136 break, the highest of the tournament thus far, to restore parity.

Scotland’s Higgins replied in kind, composing a century run of 102 to regain the lead at 2-1. He then made 68 in the fourth to head in for the mid-session 3-1 ahead.

When the players returned Trump fully capitalised on a fluked red to make 120 and pull within a frame at 3-2. He then added the next two and made it three on the bounce to lead 4-3.

Higgins dug deep and showed his steel, with a break of 70 to force a decider. The four-time World Champion then produced a gutsy run of 58 to assume control of the final frame. He eventually got himself over the line and progressed to the last four.

“I’m delighted to win. It was a good match. I only really missed one ball, which was a bad blue in the seventh frame,” said 47-year-old Higgins. “I am pleased, because I’ve lost so many games to him recently. It is good to know I can still beat someone as good as him.

The record against Judd probably made him better. He’s maybe gone into the game believing he can’t lose. I always believe in myself, but that mindset can be the difference.

I am really pleased. A lot of people could have been commenting that I can’t get over the line anymore. I am probably more down on myself than anyone. It is good to know you can do it a little bit under the pressure. I’ll need to do it again on Saturday against Marco. He is the home favourite and it will be a great occasion.

Again here are more images shared on weibo, and again most by SuperStars Online

There was already a very big crowd, despite this being a working day. The venue is massive.

Some more pictures shared on weibo, this time the venue and it’s surroundings

Tomorrow afternoon (in Hong Kong) Neil Robertson will face Mark Williams. Mark was called “last minute” to replace Zhao who tested positive to covid. Mark will have very little time, no more than a couple of hours to try to rest a bit after a 13 hours long flight. I don’t fancy his chances … but, Willo being Willo, you never know.

2 thoughts on “2022 Hong Kong Masters – Fu and Higgins win on Day 1

  1. It’s not actually a working week in China – they have National Day celebrations. I don’t know to what extent that applies to Hong Kong, but there will be many people off work.

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