Fu vows to come back stronger

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 December, 2008, 12:00am

Dramatic defeat in UK final can spur Hong Kong star to greater things

Hong Kong's Marco Fu Ka-chun said he can focus on the positives from his heart-breaking UK Championship final defeat, saying his confidence has returned despite losing a 10-9 thriller against Shaun Murphy in Telford, England.

The 31-year-old star (pictured) said he was not disheartened with the defeat even though he had the title within his grasp when leading 9-8.

'I was winning the scrappy frames while Shaun was scoring better. Even at 9-8 up I didn't feel settled. I was out of sorts all day. I'm disappointed to lose although I can take some positives from this tournament as I've got my confidence back,' said Fu, who is coached by 1979 world champion Terry Griffiths.

Murphy breathed a huge sigh of relief after finally ending Fu's brave challenge, clinching the decider thanks to a fluke on the pink.

Fu had staged a dramatic comeback after Murphy led 5-3 only for Fu to pull level at 6-6 before Murphy found himself against the ropes when Fu led 9-8.

But the Englishman held his nerve in a tense and scrappy finish, levelling at 9-9 before closing out the decider in extraordinary fashion.

Fu is unlikely to forget the day he almost pulled off a miraculous victory, coming so close to adding another major title after winning last season's Royal London Watches Grand Prix.

While Fu was disappointed with his defeat, the provisional world number six said he felt he didn't deserve to win.

'I was lucky to be in the match, I can't believe I took nine frames off Shaun, the way I was playing,' admitted Fu. 'I felt I was a bit lucky today as Shaun played very well in the final. He should have won it by 10-5 or 10-6, and I had luck on my side on the last few frames to make it so close.

'I had some good sleep last night, but my game was just so-so. When I was trailing 5-3 in the first half of the match, I was hoping I could get back to how I played in the semi-final against Ali Carter, but my performance in the second half again failed to improve. My defeat has nothing do with pressure [playing] in a final. I felt a bit tired but this was not the main reason for the loss.

'In general, I felt quite happy with my performance at this year's UK Championship. In the matches before the final I played as well as I had been in training.'

Despite losing the UK Championship final - second only in prestige to the World Championship - Fu can take heart that he finished the year on a high.

His final appearance in Telford was worth #46,000 (HK$542,000) in prize money - Murphy won #100,000 - and his fighting display showed it was just a matter of time before he strikes it really big.

'I had some ups and downs in 2008. I did very well to have reached the UK Championship final, but I also lost in the opening rounds of other ranking tournaments this year, so I need to be more consistent.

'I hope to improve my performance on the big stage such as the World Championship,' said Fu, who reached the last four at The Crucible in 2006.

Murphy described his victory as even more intense than his 2005 world title victory.

'I know now what it's like to feel that kind of pressure,' said 26-year-old Murphy. 'When it went 9-9 I thought to myself that I just wanted one chance. As it turned out we both had about 19 chances.

'I was embarrassed when I fluked the pink [to go 37 points ahead with one red left]. Even then I thought there could be one more twist. I would have been very upset to lose.'

Fu meanwhile will savour the feeling of reaching the final, saying he will now relax with his girlfriend and friends in Britain.

'I will stay in the UK because the Masters will start soon [January 12]. This will be my first Christmas in England,' he said.

Fu will also be busy preparing for next year's East Asian Games in Hong Kong, where he will take part in the snooker events two days before the opening ceremony.

This will allow Fu and other Chinese players time to return to Britain for the start of next year's UK Championship.