Ali Carter came from 5-3 down to beat Marco Fu 9-6 to win his third world ranking title at the Betfair German Masters in Berlin.
Carter dominated the evening session in the German capital to take the 60,000 Euro top prize and add to the ranking titles he won at the 2009 Welsh Open and 2010 Shanghai Masters. Hong Kong’s 35-year-old Fu looked the stronger player in the early stages but struggled with his safety and potting at the business end.
A crowd of over 2,000 fans rose to salute 33-year-old Carter as he paraded the trophy. Snooker is clearly booming in Germany and there were excellent crowds throughout the week at the Tempodrom, which is considered by many players the best venue on the circuit.
For the past decade, Carter has suffered from Crohn’s disease, and just 14 months ago he announced his intention to quit snooker, believing that the painful effects of the illness and a loss of form were dragging him down in a vicious circle. A change of diet helped him combat the disease and his game improved sharply as he reached the final of the World Championship, losing to Ronnie O’Sullivan.
At the UK Championship in December, after a cruel 9-8 semi-final defeat against Shaun Murphy – from 8-4 ahead – Carter broke down in tears in his post-match press conference as he admitted that Crohn’s remains an obdurate factor in his personal and professional life.
So tonight’s victory brings a measure of redemption for the player nicknamed The Captain as he proved to himself that he can still win major titles and his decision to persevere with his snooker career was correct.
He is up to number 11 in the world and can look forward to the rest of the season confident of adding more silverware.
Carter was 5-3 down after the first session but immediately swung the momentum his way with a fantastic start this evening, knocking in breaks of 116 and 121, his first centuries of the tournament. He also dominated frame 11 to take the lead for the first time at 6-5.
Fu, who was seeking his second ranking title having won the 2007 Grand Prix, made 48 in frame 12 before playing safe on the last red. Carter potted the red but missed the brown and his opponent was able to level the tie at the mid-session interval.
In the 13th, Carter made 32 then Fu replied with 31 before running out of position. The Asian cueman then played a weak safety to let Carter in for an excellent 71. Frame 14 was a scrappy one but Carter didn’t mind as he took it with a run of 41 to lead 8-6.
Carter missed two tricky pots early in the 15th, but when Fu failed on a slow-rolled red to a centre pocket, the Essex man took his chance. A break of 39 put him 52 ahead with three reds left, and when Fu missed again, Carter closed out victory.
“It was a tough day, we both wanted to win so badly,” said Carter, who nearly had to play his first match in Berlin without his cue as it failed to arrive on his flight to Germany and was only delivered to the venue an hour before he took to the baize. “We wanted to put on a good show for the crowd because it’s such a magnifient arena so I’m just delighted to come out a winner.
“It hasn’t been an easy time for me but I have given it my all and things have turned around massively, which makes it very satisfying. It has been a long time coming and I’ve been through tough times. A year ago I didn’t want to be playing. I had a big disappointment at the UK losing to Shaun, because I felt could win it. That makes it all the sweeter because life makes you wait and makes you want it even more when you get hurt.
“Today wasn’t pretty but I got the job done. It’s a relief to win and get another ranking title on the board. In the evening session I tried to change my mindset and think back to the Welsh Open final when I was 5-2 down to Joe Swail and came to back to win 9-5. It’s tough to win tournaments but I’ve done it so I’m happy.
“Sometimes I forget what a good player I am. The likes of Mark selby and Neil Robertson are winning titles but I when I beat Neil yesterday I told myself that I can be in that category.”
Fu, who has now lost in three ranking finals as well as the 2011 Masters, said: “I didn’t have many chances tonight. Every time I came to the table I was faced with a tough shot. Ali played very well so all credit to him. It was nice to be in a final again as the crowd was great – hopefully I can come back next year and win it.”