Focused Fu shows an appetite to build on last season's form
HK's veteran cueist confident ahead of Shanghai showpiece
Marco Fu Ka-chun, Hong Kong's sole professional, is adamant his best years still lie ahead of him, despite having spent more than a decade on the world circuit.
Now 30, Fu is coming off his best season on the World Snooker Association's tour, one in which he won his first ranking tournament - the Royal London Watches Grand Prix - and rose to a career-best world ranking of 14, earning prize money of #149,550 (HK$2.15 million). His previous best season ranking was 15.
'Winning a tournament has definitely boosted my confidence, but I know my best is yet to come,' said Fu, who starts in the second tournament of the new season in Shanghai tomorrow where he will meet Anthony Hamilton of England in the opening round. 'There was a time two or three years when I was struggling to get to the last 16, let alone win one. But over the last two years, I have made a lot of technical changes and it has taken me a while to get used to them. Now, I feel good because I know my game is heading in the right direction.'
Fu hopes he can improve his year-end ranking to break into the top 10 or even top eight, and has also set his sights on winning one of the big three tournaments - the World Championship, the Masters or the UK championship. 'I still love this sport very much after all these years and every game feels new to me,' said Fu, who made his highest break with a maximum of 147 at the 2000 Scottish Masters. 'I still have many targets after winning my first ranking title last year, such as reaching the top 10 and winning one of the big three.
'I am now a much more all-round player compared with the first few years on the tour when I only knew how to attack and attack. Now I defend more and my mental state is getting stronger with more self confidence.'
Fu also admits his religion has given him additional strength. on the table. 'I learned Buddhism from my mother and became a follower of it six or seven years ago,' he said. 'It tells me how to keep a peaceful mind, which is very important when you start a game. It also gives more insight about winning and losing, so I can handle the results better.'
Fu also revealed he has been a vegetarian for about five years, but he feels it has had little effect on his game as snooker is not a power sport.
Contemplating the upcoming season, Fu saw four Englishmen as the main obstacles to his ambitions. Ronnie O'Sullivan would still be the main threat, he said, but world number three Shaun Murphy, number four Mark Selby and Ali Carter, the world number seven, could also mount serious challenges.
'It is always tough against any player in the top 10 but these few will be the ones to watch,' Fu said. 'I did not play very well in the first tournament this season, but hopefully I can get better as the season goes on. My provisional ranking is eighth and therefore it will not be a surprise if I make it into the top 10 at the end of the season.'
Fu lost to England's Barry Hawkins 5-2 in the opening round of the Northern Ireland Trophy last month.
Fu doesn't feel the weight of expectation on him any longer because more players from China have joined the professional circuit, 'There are now about 10 players from China and when I first started 10 years ago it was only me,' said Fu, who has collected career prize money of #874,265. 'More and more attention is now given to the mainlanders, but as a matter of fact, they are also doing well.
'I was told there are over 20 million snooker players in China and they certainly have a lot of potential. In Hong Kong the sport is falling behind China, but I hope my success on the world circuit can help create more interest in the sport and the related authorities can do more promotion to attract young people.'