Hong Kong snooker star Marco Fu turns it around after 15-minute interval

The home favourite comes back from 3-1 down to nail place in the last four of the Hong Kong Masters, thanks to a magnificent break of 132; Selby loses to Robertson in other quarter-final

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 July, 2017, 7:10pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 July, 2017, 9:00am

A 15-minute break was all that was needed for battling Marco Fu Ka-chun to turn his performance around and nail a place in the Hong Kong Masters semi-finals after coming back from 3-1 down at Queen Elizabeth Stadium on Thursday.

Hong Kong star Fu looked down and out when England’s Barry Hawkins turned the screws in the best-of-nine frame encounter before things took a dramatic twist when players resumed after a short interval.

It’s not exactly known what Fu did or exactly how he did it, but the 39-year-old turned on the afterburners to finally wrest control of the match, finishing the eighth frame with a magnificent break of 132 to win the match 5-3 to the delight of a near-capacity crowd.

World number five Fu plays Neil Robertson in Saturday’s semi-final after the Australian beat world champion Mark Selby of England 5-3 on Thursday.

Fu was chuffed he came back a “different player” after the interval as he made his first Hong Kong tournament appearance in 10 years a memorable one.

“I talked to my coach Wayne [Griffiths]. I mean it’s a great tournament but I wanted to take it easy, I wanted to relax and I came out and played so much better after the interval,” admitted Fu.

“It’s one of those things that you feel differently before the interval and after the interval, sometimes you feel like two different players.”

Fu did indeed look a different player as he mounted his comeback almost immediately after the interval. He made a break of 75 in the fifth before small but crucial breaks had him winning the sixth to make things all square at 3-3. Fu won the seventh frame 88-8 before the piece de resistance came in the eighth – a massive 132 clearance that had the crowd on their feet.

“It was very hard, I was trying to enjoy the occasion. Barry is a great player,” said Fu, who was not taking anything away from the world number six left-hander from Kent.

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“There were a couple of crucial frames, the third frame was crucial. I was supposed to win that but Barry won it. But Barry was supposed to win the sixth frame but I won it. It went back and forth. The momentum probably switched a few times. I was very happy to play some decent snooker and even if I lost today, I would go home proud. I hope everyone enjoyed it,” said Fu.

No doubt playing in front of a home crowd will have boosted Fu’s confidence but last season’s Scottish Open champion said he was lucky just to be taking part in the Hong Kong Masters.

“They are all big players,” said Fu of the eight-man field headed by world champion Mark Selby and the legendary Ronnie O’Sullivan.

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“We are very lucky to have all these great players this time in Hong Kong. I’m not looking too far ahead, whom I’m going to play next, it doesn’t matter. I just want to play some decent snooker in front of my home crowd. I usually play in tournaments in the UK and China so it’s very nice to be playing back in Hong Kong [after 10 years] so I’m very happy.”

Hawkins said he came into the tournament “a bit rusty” as it was his first major event since last season.

“I think I have to find the nearest bar,” joked Hawkins after his narrow loss.

“I wasn’t very clinical today. I made too many errors and maybe that’s because I was enjoying my break from last season and I wasn’t playing much snooker at all really. I was just a bit rusty and really wasn’t that sharp enough, that’s all,” said the 38-year-old Englishman.

“Marco had better control in the balls that’s for sure. He played some good snooker and it’s good for the tournament that Marco won and it would be great for Hong Kong if he goes all the way now.”

Meanwhile, world number one Selby revealed he couldn’t play his best because he was recovering from a broken toe sustained in a domestic accident at home.

“I broke a glass at home and that broke my toe several weeks ago. That’s why I entered the first tournament of the season in Latvia but I had to pull out. I had no more injuries before coming to Hong Kong. It was just a lack of practice,” said Selby, world champion in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

Robertson was looking forward to his semi-final against Fu but knows fans will be backing the local hero to the tilt.

“I’m in better shape. I played in the World [Team] Cup in China before returning to Australia where I practised a lot. It will be an interesting game on Saturday when I play home favourite Marco, who will have the backing of 3,000 fan. But if you play some good snooker, fans will get on your side,” the Australian, world champion in 2010, said.