Carter and Fu to Fight it out in Germany

Ali Carter beat Neil Robertson 6-2 in a last four clash of very low quality to reach the final of the German Masters in front of a packed auditorium in Berlin.

There, he will meet Marco Fu for a shot at glory after the Hong Kong native edged Barry Hawkins 6-4 in a tight battle.

Neither Carter nor Australia’s Robertson were in particularly good form but the latter especially struggled to cope under the spotlight.

Amazingly, Carter progressed despite not being able to compile even a single half century break but was able to capitalise on an array of uncharacteristic mistakes from his opponent.

The tie began in scrappy fashion and both cueists struggled to find any rhythm throughout the contest.

Carter’s level remained pretty static from start to finish and benefited from potting a succession of clutch balls.

However, a swift 90 break aside in the penultimate frame, Robertson’s standard decreased dramatically to the point that he was missing long pots by almost a foot at times.

It is the result rather than the performance that will please Carter, who can now put behind him his collapse at the same stage of the UK Championship when he led Shaun Murphy 8-4 only to lose in a thrilling deciding frame turnaround.

“Pleased with the win, although not my best performance but always good to beat one of the games best!” Carter’s reaction on Twitter.

A year earlier in York Carter had seriously threatened quitting the game as his well documented battle with Crohn’s disease severely hindered his progress in tournaments.

Yet, he gained confidence at last year’s World Championship by reaching the final at the Crucible for the second time in his career and has since significantly improved his diet and fitness levels.

With more consistency in the PTC satellite series and a victory under his belt in a Championship League group, the 33 year-old has both risen back into the top 16 of the world rankings and found the will to win again.

Carter has won two ranking events in his career – the 2009 Welsh Open and 2010 Shanghai Masters – and some will argue that this is reflective of his talent.

But the fact remains that it is very difficult to be a multiple ranking event winner and it would be a fantastic achievement to add a third trophy to his cabinet with still many potentially good years ahead of him.

For Robertson, this defeat continues a stretch of two and a half years since his last triumph in a fully fledged ranker.

Considering he won at least one in each calendar year between 2006 and 2010 this could become some cause for concern for the former world champ – although it should equally be noted that the 30 year-old has been victorious at the Masters and various PTC tournaments since that period.

That said, Robertson’s style of play has markedly changed in the last number of years.

From being a quick, attack-minded potter, Robbo has slowly transformed into a player that gets bogged down with intensive safety duels  – drawing comparisons with how Peter Ebdon’s career developed.

In the second semi-final, former Grand Prix champion Fu saw off the challenge of Australian Open winner Barry Hawkins in a closer affair that almost went the distance.

Hawkins had perhaps been the favourite after previously knocking out Marks Allen and Selby but could not continue his run against an in-form Fu.

The encounter was close throughout with the first eight frames being shared but Fu excelled in his scoring with top century breaks of 142 and 110.

At 5-4 down, Hawkins had chances to force a decider but eventually needed a snooker he couldn’t acquire to hand Fu a memorable triumph.

The 35 year-old has been in or around the high echelons of the sport for 15 years now but it has been a good five years since he has contended major titles.

Indeed, it was 2008 when he last appeared in a ranking event final, although he did come runner-up to Rod Lawler in the third UK PTC event this season in Gloucester.

A player who has often lacked consistency, Fu has never been found wanting in terms of ability and, though it is unexpected, it isn’t necessarily a huge surprise to see his name this far into the latter stages of a tournament once again.

So maybe not the final we expected at the start of the week, Carter versus Fu.

Yet, the fact that they are two competitors fighting it out to enhance their status in the history books will arguably make it just as interesting.

Indeed, the enthusiasm and atmosphere of the German crowd will no doubt inspire them to produce an excellent final.

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