Luca Brecel's Best Long Pots | 2023 Cazoo World Championship

Fu Awarded Invitational Tour Card

Marco Fu will compete on the World Snooker Tour for at least two more years, after being awarded with a fresh invitational tour card.

The three-time ranking event winner endured a difficult period from 2018 until 2022, when he was forced to take a break from the sport after laser eye surgery. The pandemic then meant he was unable to compete for almost two seasons.

Fu’s first full year back came last season, which was filled with highs and lows for the Hong Kong cueman. However, ultimately it ended with him dropping off the circuit. He has now been given a fresh slate over the next two seasons to continue competing as a professional and is excited for the challenge ahead.

“I am very grateful to be offered this opportunity by World Snooker Tour. I’ve spent 25 years on the circuit, but the last few have been really challenging. To be given this chance to continue and represent Hong Kong and China for another two years makes me extremely proud. I will be working as hard as ever to prove I am a player who can still perform and represent our sport at the highest level. I am very happy and excited,” said 45-year-old Fu.

“I had my eye surgery in 2018 and then Covid, which as an overseas player was really challenging. If I stayed in the UK I would have been away from my family for a year. It was a time everybody wants to forget. Now everything is back to normal and my future is in my hands. All I can do is just work as hard as possible. Hopefully I can do myself proud.”

The eye issues that Fu has had to overcome have involved floaters impeding his vision. The surgery in 2018 didn’t have the desired effect and it is still something he has to deal with. However, Fu is hoping that he can find a way over the next two years to put that problem to one side.

“I think my eyes are alright. It is steady but not 100%. I don’t think I will ever recover fully. At the moments I just have to get used to playing with the floaters around my eyes. It is not a huge thing but it does affect me. I think I can practice more and get more comfortable.

“When I play the shot, the floaters are moving. Snooker is a sport when you need to concentrate 100%. If someone makes a noise, then you get up and gather yourself. For me, every time I am on the shot the floaters are moving. I can’t do anything about that. I need a new potting and aiming method to cater for that problem. It is difficult, but it is all I can do at the moment.”

The undoubted highlight of Fu’s 22/23 campaign saw him go all the way to the final of the Hong Kong Masters in front of his adoring home fans. It was the first time professional snooker had been in Asia since the beginning of the pandemic and it couldn’t have occurred on a grander stage.

A world record 9,000 fans crammed into the Hong Kong Coliseum for Fu’s 6-4 defeat to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final. However, Fu’s finest moment of the event came in the semis against John Higgins. He fired in an epic 147 break in the deciding frame to beat the Scot 6-5. It was a moment when the eye issues dissipated and Fu says that was down to getting in a zen like state, which comes about very rarely in the career of a snooker player.

“I was in the zone during that break. I fancied making a 147. It was an unbelievable feeling. It is hard to repeat that. It is out of your control when you get into that zone, but I managed it during that break. It was probably one of the most important moments in all my career. A 147 break in front of all those fans.

“All I could see was the white ball and the object ball in front of me. I couldn’t see the crowd, the referee or my opponent. I couldn’t hear anything. I was just playing. I was in a bubble. It was a great feeling and very calming. I have only had that feeling a couple of times in my career. I was lucky that I got it then.

“John is always a gentleman. He congratulated me and said good luck in the final. Thinking back it was a special moment. I have been there many times for concerts. It is a famous place for that. I never thought I would compete there. It is probably the loudest noise I’ve ever heard in the Coliseum. It was very special for me and everybody in Hong Kong.”

The remainder of the season didn’t go to plan for Fu, who ended the campaign with five consecutive first round defeats. He was beaten 10-5 by Martin O’Donnell in World Championship qualifying. However, Fu kept a keen eye on the progress of Chinese 20-year-old Si Jiahui who went on a stunning run to the semi-finals, before being pipped 17-15 by eventual World Champion Luca Brecel. Looking ahead Fu is determined to earn a return to the Crucible in the coming years.

Fu said: “I was supporting Si Jiahui throughout the whole tournament. He was an outsider from the beginning, but he played better and better. I was texting his manager Victoria the whole way through. I have his number, but didn’t want to contact him directly and disturb him. I told Victoria good luck each time. I couldn’t believe how well he played. I was very happy for him and disappointed for him in the semi-final. It would have been amazing if he became the first Chinese player to win the World Championship. I was really rooting for him.

“My target is very obvious. I would love to finish in the top 64 after two years and qualify for the Crucible again. I haven’t been there for a long time now. I will try my very best to achieve those things. I think with my eye problem and Covid, my standard has definitely dropped from five years ago. The love of the game is still there. I still look forward to practising every day. I love taking my cue into a snooker club. As long as I feel that I will keep on playing. Hopefully I will get back to the standard where I can compete as I did five years ago. That is the standard I want to achieve. I will do my very best.”