Marco Fu, who had lost nine first round matches in 14 previous appearances at the Crucible, managed to get past the opening hurdle at this year’s Betfred World Championship with a 10-6 defeat of Jimmy Robertson.
Sheffield has not been a happy hunting ground for Hong Kong’s finest over the years; his only semi-final appearance came in 2006 and he has not been past the second round since. But the former Grand Prix and Australian Goldfields Open champion now has the chance to reach the last eight when he meets Judd Trump or Stuart Carrington a week today.
Sussex’s Robertson, who lost to Mark Selby on his only previous appearance at the Crucible, trailed 5-4 overnight but won the opening frame today with a break of 106. World number 11 Fu responded with 70 and 88 to take the next two before Robertson claimed the next to make it 7-6 at the interval.
Robertson had chances to level the tie in the crucial 14th frame but could not take them and allowed Fu to clear from the last red for 8-6. That proved the decisive moment as Fu knocked in breaks of 63 and 73 in the next two frames to secure victory.
“I was very good and very bad,” said 37-year-old Fu. “I played very well in patches but some of the chances I missed were unforgivable as well so it’s kind of tough to judge how well I played.
“I felt really good throughout the match but I was making mistakes as well. I’m still missing too many at the moment, but overall I’m cueing much better than I have been so far. I’m very pleased to get through the first round.
“Jimmy missed a golden opportunity to go 7-7 and I just took advantage and cleared the colours, and I played a little bit better after that.
“When I was put under pressure I tended to play my best snooker in this match got three or four frames ahead, then I missed a few chances here and there.
“When he started to play well it inspired me to play even better so that’s a good thing to have.
“I just need to find the balance right mentally because I still really haven’t found the secret of doing well in this tournament, because there’s something different about it.
“Mentally I’m all ready to play Judd in the next round, but you never know, when Stuart Carrington plays well and puts Judd under pressure, it could get close.”
Robertson said: “I didn’t really take my chances in the first session, it took me too long to settle down. I came out today and I felt comfortable from the start. I lost a big frame when I went 8-6 down, after that I struggled.
“I won a good frame before the interval and had chances for 7-7 but I didn’t take them and you’ve got to take them at this level.
“It’s all good experience, hopefully I can get back here again and hold it together a bit better next time. There are some positives because four years ago when I was here I was a lot more nervous.”
Barry Hawkins, runner-up here two years ago, stormed into a 7-2 lead over Matthew Selt. The first four frames were shared, Hawkins making breaks of 51 and 61. The world number five then stepped up a gear after the interval to win five frames in a row with runs of 91, 64, 70 and 65. They play to a finish on Monday from 10am.