It looked like it was going to be a tough afternoon for Marco Fu after the opening three frames of the Scottish Open final on Sunday. John Higgins, in front of a home crowd in Glasgow’s Emirates Arena, had knocked in three centuries on the spin to take a commanding 3-0 lead, condemning Fu to a role as spectator.
However, those who have watched Marco Fu at this tournament will know he was never going to go down without a fight, and fight he did. After trailing 4-1, Fu produced what he described as the best performance of his career to win eight consecutive frames and seal an emphatic 9-4 victory over four-time world champion Higgins.
KING FU LEAVES HIGGINS FEELING BRUISED
Perhaps those opening three frames led us to write Fu off prematurely, before we’d even seen him at the table for any length of time. However, the nature of John Higgins’ sensational trio of centuries at the beginning of the match was such that it was difficult to see any way back. Successive breaks of 126, 101, and 100 left the crowd in awe, as Higgins recorded pot success of 99%. Fu was a spectator at the start of this match, and the mental strength needed to come back from such a setback cannot be underestimated.
Indeed, Higgins was up against the in-form player at this year’s Scottish Open. On his way to the final, Fu had dropped just seven frames in six matches, recording 10 centuries along the way. While the Eurosport commentators were saying that, with Higgins in such form, Fu would be delighted to end the session 2-6 down, it’s clear that ‘Mr. Cool’ had other ideas. The scrappy nature of some of the latter frames of the afternoon session seemed as though they would suit John Higgins, but Fu demonstrated remarkable resilience to end the session at 4-4.
Perhaps the blow of not taking a lead into the evening session played on John Higgins mind when the game resumed. His early swagger was gone, replaced by a nervous tension so rarely associated with the ‘Wizard of Wishaw’. The Scot struggled to replicate his early scoring form, and Fu produced a professional performance to win five frames on the bounce and claim his third ranking title. As for Higgins, he must continue to chase that elusive 29th ranking title, and he knows that last night saw an excellent chance to claim it go begging.
FU HITTING FORM AT RIGHT TIME
Suffice to say, it had been a rather underwhelming start to the 2016/17 season for Marco Fu. Before the UK Championship began last month, Fu had failed to progress beyond the second round of any ranking tournament. However, a semi-final appearance in York, followed by this success in Glasgow, will leave Fu feeling confident heading into the new year. On his day, few can match Marco Fu’s thunderous break building, as evidenced in the Scottish Open, where he simply blew his opponents away en route to the title. The problem for Fu is that those days are all too rare for a player often dogged by inconsistency.
However, Fu will head to the Masters next month in confident mood, knowing that if he can replicate the kind of performances he produced in Glasgow, he will have a real chance in a tournament that is notoriously difficult to win. At 38, Fu is far from young, and perhaps it will take a success in a major tournament for him to truly establish himself among snooker’s greats, and next month’s Masters is an excellent opportunity to do that.
POSITIVES FOR HIGGINS
While he has yet to win a ranking title this season, John Higgins has been remarkably consistent so far this year, reaching at least the quarter finals in six of the nine ranking events he has participated in. While he will be kicking himself that he couldn’t win that 29th title to eclipse Ronnie O’Sullivan, the Scot can take pride in his performances not only at this event, but throughout the season so far.
Such consistency is the holy grail of snooker players. The kind of tournament results Higgins has showcased this season are almost unrivalled across the tour. Perhaps Higgins will feel that this season is his best chance in a long time to claim that fifth world title, and the way the Scot has been playing, it would be no surprise were Higgins to take the Crucible by storm yet again in April.
On this occasion, though, it seemed as though Marco Fu had his name on the trophy from the very beginning of the tournament, and for a man often hailed as one of the nicest on the tour, few can begrudge him a third ranking title.