Marco Fu cleared the colours in the deciding frame to beat Shaun Murphy 6-5 in a thrilling match at the Coral UK Championship.
By Mark Rawlinson
Fu pulled off an excellent comeback from 5-3 down to secure a spot in the quarter-finals against Stephen Maguire or David Morris.
It was a rematch of the 2008 UK Championship final when Murphy clinched the title 10-9, but this time it was the Hong Kong man who came out on top in the decider, to secure a third quarter-final of the season.
Fu, who has also made it to the final eight of the Wuxi Classic and International Championship this campaign, found himself in trouble at 5-3 down after Murphy knocked in breaks of 53, 75, 137, 75 and 82 to go within a frame of victory.
However Fu crucially clinched a 58-minute ninth frame, potting the final black after Murphy had gained the snooker he needed on the blue. Fu then hit a run of 67 in the tenth to force the decider.
Murphy looked to be on a match-clinching break but he was unlucky not to finish on a red after going into the pack on 54. Fu then had a chance to clear but suffered his own slice of misfortune on 33, nudging the last red off the top cushion but snookering himself behind the black. Murphy won a safety battle on the red and had a golden chance to clear, but in going from black to yellow he left the cue ball behind the blue. He escaped from the self-inflicted snooker, but left Fu the opportunity to clear for victory.
“Overall I’m not happy with the way I played but I regard this as the biggest win of my career,” said world number ten Fu. “I’ve won matches against top players when I’m playing well but today I don’t feel capable of making a 20 break when I get the chance. Shaun was playing very well and cueing well under pressure.
“I got a little bit lucky at the end because I kissed the red and snookered myself behind the black. Shaun played a poor shot on the black, just snookering himself on the yellow. It gave me a second chance and I couldn’t believe it.
“Every time he got in the balls, I fancied him making 50 or 60 plus. It’s tough to compete against so I had to rely on my safety but overall I just couldn’t get in rhythm today. I couldn’t believe with the way I was playing that I could get to 5-5 and win at the end.”
Judd Trump is also through to the quarter-finals after finishing well to defeat Rod Lawler 6-3. Lawler, who beat Mark Allen in the last round, compiled runs of 43 and 59 to go 2-1 up. Trump then won a scrappy couple of frames and a break of 52 in the sixth allowed him to go 4-2 ahead.
The next two were shared before Trump hit a 112 to win the match in style.
“It was a hard game but I enjoyed it,” said 2011 UK Champion Trump. “Everyone is a different player so for me it is important to beat these kind of players. To keep improving you’ve got to adapt your style.
“Rod’s a solid player and he showed it today – he never went away. He struggled at the start but when he got going he potted all these long balls and put me under a lot of pressure.
“I enjoy playing Rod now because you’ve got to show a maturity to your game and I don’t think I used to have that. Today I had to stay patient and for me it’s a completely different challenge.
“I like to be challenged in every way possible because it’s easy for me to go out and blow people off the table, but when you’ve got to win a tournament by coming through a tough win playing tough players, it feels more of an achievement than just winning making great breaks.”