Fu faces tough opener against Ding

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 April, 2008, 12:00am

An unprecedented four Chinese players, including Hong Kong ace Marco Fu Ka-chun, will be on show at the world championships, which begins tomorrow at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England.

Unfortunately for Fu he will be up against China's leading player Ding Junhui, one of the favourites, in the opening round of the 32-man draw.

'I feel confident and, I really enjoy playing at the Crucible,' said Fu, who reached the semi-finals in 2006. 'I'm just concentrating on the opening round at the moment. I'm not thinking beyond that.'

Chinese qualifiers Liang Wenbo and Liu Chuang will join Fu and Ding in the richest and oldest professional event, which lasts a marathon 17 days with the final scheduled for May 5.

'I think it is very good for the game to have four Asian players competing in the tournament,' Fu said. 'Snooker has always been a British sport, but it's growing in popularity in Asia. A lot of youngsters look up to Ding, me and the other Chinese players.'

Fu, 30, will enter the tournament with his self-belief sky-high, especially after winning his first ranking title earlier this season - defeating former world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan in the Royal London Watches Grand Prix in Aberdeen last October.

'It was great to win my first ranking event and I'm finding my game is a lot more consistent that it was two years ago,' said Fu, who is ranked 13th on the provisional list.

Ding is eighth on the list. Former six-time world champion Steve Davis has picked Ding as one of the players to watch out for at this year's event.

'He is a king in the making and is nailed on to win The Crucible title one day, in many people's eyes,' Davis told the BBC.

'When you see him play at his best, it is hard to disagree.'

Defending champion John Higgins of Scotland will get the ball rolling when he takes on Welshman Matthew Stevens in the opening game tomorrow.