Marco Fu, Ding Junhui continue surge in Sheffield
Hong Kong cuesman Marco Fu completed a wonderful 24 hours for Asian snooker on Wednesday as he became the third player from the continent to reach the second round of the world championships.
Fu, 35 and a semi-finalist at the championships in 2006, maintained his overnight supremacy over veteran Welshman Matthew Stevens and made the second round with a 10-7 win.
Fu joins China’s Ding Junhui, who beat two-time semi-finalist but now a fading force Alan McManus 10-5 while Thai rookie Dechawat Poomjaeng produced a display of unpredictable entertainment to beat McManus’s compatriot, sixth seed Scot Stephen Maguire, 10-9.
Australia’s 2010 world champion Neil Robertson, though, is involved in a tight battle with Englishman Robert Milkins and has just a 5-4 frame lead to take into Thursday’s final session.
However, the Australian did fire in the biggest break of the championships so far, 143, to better former finalist Judd Trump’s Tuesday effort of 142.
Trump, who lost to John Higgins in the 2011 final, had little trouble progressing with a 10-5 win over Dominic Dale and will meet Fu in the second round.
The 23-year-old Englishman said he was delighted with his form and reckoned that only three or four players were realistic contenders for the title held by the mercurial Ronnie O’Sullivan.
“It was good. I felt really comfortable out there, relaxed and with no pressure. I think it showed in how I played,” said Trump, who lost to John Higgins in the 2011 final.
“If I play like I did today I’ll have a good chance.
“I know a lot of people are saying that anyone can win it, but in my opinion there’s only three or four who can.”
Regardless of what Trump says Ding believes that the 34-year-old crowd-pleasing Poomjaeng, described as not the “full shilling” by a peeved Maguire after their match, can cause a major upset and win the trophy.
“He’s crazy, a funny guy. He’s crazy all the time,” said Ding, who sees a lot of him as they both live and practise in Sheffield.
“It wouldn’t be a surprise to me if he won the title.
“It wouldn’t be a good time to play him at the moment.”
His next opponent is a fellow qualifier Michael White of Wales.