Marco Fu is becoming snooker's marathon man after an attritional
opening session of his semi-final with Peter Ebdon. Fu, bidding to
become the first Asian player to reach the world final, had been
involved in a 59-minute frame - the longest of the 2006 tournament
- during a quarter-final win over Ken Doherty that spanned nearly
It was a similar scenario against 2002 title holder Ebdon with
the sixth frame in the best-of-33 contest lasting nearly 53
minutes. Fu showed he has the temperament for such battles by
triumphing on both occasions and perhaps that is an indication of
the influence on his game of former world champion and coach Terry
Griffiths who was renowned for his patient approach. But a session
of cagey, tight and sometimes tedious snooker ended with the
contest locked at 4-4.
Whether Fu, a 125-1 outsider at the beginning of the event, can
retain the high levels of concentration required against an
experienced performer like Ebdon over four gruelling sessions will
become evident over the next 48 hours.
Certainly Fu started to miss the sort of pots he has been making
consistently during the past fortnight in the latter stages of the
session. But Ebdon is a master of such confrontations and his
methodical and sometimes ultra slow approach angered Ronnie
Sullivan during their quarter-final meeting at Sheffield 12 months
The initial exchanges of the opening frame set the tone with
both players reluctant to take the slightest risk and, after the
balls became awkwardly placed, a re-rack was agreed upon after a
quarter of an hour's play.
Fu, who had ousted world number three Stephen Maguire and 1997
world champion Ken Doherty on his way to the last four, dominated
the first frame proper and a run of 41 gave him the early
ascendancy before missing an awkward red into the middle.
Dubai-based Ebdon failed to convert a similar opportunity into the
other middle bag and it was his last visit to the table as Fu put
together an 81 clearance to claim first blood.
The 28-year-old was favourite to double his lead after a run of
54 in the next. But he was made to pay when missing a red into the
black pocket when 55-20 ahead and Ebdon showed his class in
negotiating a difficult red on the rail and an awkwardly placed
final green with a decisive 56. He slipped behind for the second
time when a scrappy third frame went Fu's way after a modest 25
left his opponent needing snookers. Ebdon was first among the balls
in the final frame before the mid-session interval before breaking
down on 42 after splitting the pack and not finding himself on a
Fu, who had a 100% record with his long-potting in the opening
three frames, was unable to convert a red into the black pocket and
Ebdon closed the frame out with his second half century of the
Breaks of 39 and 45 edged Ebdon in front for the first time in
frame five but from there on play almost ground to a halt at times.
The marathon sixth frame finally went in Fu's favour only for Ebdon
to again reclaim the advantage in the next with the aid of an
opening 48 and a 42 to the final black.
The final frame of the session was another long, drawn-out
battle lasting 46 minutes before Fu's 25 to the final black means
he will resume on Friday on level terms.
Two-times champion Ronnie Sullivan and Graeme Dott will contest
the other semi-final in a re-run of their 2004 final.
(The Guardian via CRI English, April 28, 2006)