Even stevens: Marco Fu and Mark Selby all square at 12-12 in world championship semi-final
Hong Kong star returns to the table a day after breaking the tip of his cuestick to level with world No 1 from England, while China’s Ding Junhui leads Alan McManus in other semi
Hong Kong’s Marco Fu Ka-chun was locked in an intense battle with world number one Mark Selby in the semi-finals of the world championships, which was all square at 12-frames a piece last night.
Fu returned to the table after Friday night’s drama when he overcame losing the tip of his cue to come from 5-3 down and draw level at 8-8.
There was more drama unfolding at the Crucible when Fu and Selby played out the longest frame in world championship history.
Selby finally took the frame after 76 minutes to level the match 12-12 at the end of the morning session.
China’s Ding Junhui, meanhile, racked up a record equalling number of centuries by a single player in a world championship match on Friday with his sixth helping him to a 14-10 lead over Alan McManus in the semi-finals.
The 29-year-old Ding hit his fifth ton on the way to a 9-3 advantage over Scot McManus, who responded with his second and third centuries to win five frames and get back to 9-8 at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
World number 17 Ding finished the evening session in control but saw the chance of a 147 break disappear in the 20th frame when he missed a black on 113 after struggling for position.
The pair’s combined total of nine centuries was a record for a world championship match, one more than the previous mark.
While chalking his cue and glancing at the table mid-break, Fu nudged the tip off and joined the Crucible crowd in shock as the world number 14 realised what had happened.
Television analysts Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis were equally surprised and suggested the incident could upset the 38-year-old’s progress in the best-of-33 frames encounter as he chased a first appearance in the final.
But, after an interlude for running repairs, Fu showed no concerns with his amended equipment and closed out the frame with a break of 81 to take an 8-7 lead.
Selby, who had been short of his best throughout, won the last frame to ensure they would resume on Saturday with nothing between them.
Fu looked to have it won before he botched the final red, a mistake his rival then matched before a sloppy safety shot from Fu finally settled matters in Selby’s favour.
He finished with a break of 81, his best of the day compared to a pair of centuries from Fu, who made 135 and 114.
Former world number one Ding’s six centuries matched Ronnie O’Sullivan’s against Barry Hawkins in the 2013 final and Mark Selby’s versus Stephen Hendry in the second round in 2011.
He and Fu are aiming to become the first Asian player to reach the final but world number 29 McManus, at 45 the oldest player to reach the last four since Ray Reardon in 1985, is putting up a fight.
The Chinese could also have been £30,000 better off had he completed a maximum break of 147 in the 20th frame but he was undone when he over-cut the 15th black to stall on 113.
McManus earlier reeled in Ding from 9-3 to 9-8, before the momentum switched.
At 45, McManus is the oldest man to reach the last four at the Crucible Theatre venue since Ray Reardon in 1985, and he made breaks of 107, 136 and 125 during a mesmerising morning session.
But Ding refused to yield as he improved the prospect of a first all-Asian World Championship final.
Reuters, Agence France-Presse