Marco Fu yesterday claimed his second ranking event title by beating home favourite Neil Robertson 9-6 in the Australian Open final in Bendigo.
The 35 year-old thoroughly deserved the victory, being the best player of the week by some distance.
Even though neither he nor Robbo played particularly well in the final showdown – perhaps feeling some slight burnout from a long week’s play post travelling – Fu was always in slight control of an often tight contest.
Indeed, the Hong Kong native never once found himself behind and he coolly wrapped up the triumph with a century, the only one of the contest.
Fu has been a stalwart at the top of the game for almost 15 years.
In 1998, in his first year as a professional, Fu went on an amazing run to the final of the Grand Prix before losing heavily to Stephen Lee.
It was then that everybody felt certain that he had the potential to be at the top of the world rankings, winning titles galore, for many years to come.
But, despite winning the invitational Premier League in 2003 and frequently upsetting the big names in one-off instances, Fu’s maiden ranking title only came at the 2007 Grand Prix and he has had to wait a further six years to add to the tally.
This has mainly been down to his inability to stay consistent, highlighted by the fact he has been up and down the rankings list like a yoyo throughout his career.
But what was always certain was that the talent was there for all to see and on any given day, or week, it could all come together.
Fu is one of the genuine nice guys on the Main Tour – he keeps himself out of trouble and doesn’t seek the limelight like some of the others.
He is the pro’s pro and this success should serve as a reminder that despite now being in the second half of his career he still has a lot to offer.
Indeed, that is what the Australian Open has been good for in its three-year tenure – giving players in the 30s the opportunity to taste more glory.
That was the case for Stuart Bingham two years ago, who has since established himself as one of the most consistent players, and also with last year’s winner Barry Hawkins, who went on to reach the final of the 2013 World Championship.
It was a disappointing end to an otherwise positive tournament for Neil Robertson, who was hoping to become the first person in a decade to win back-to-back rankers following his victory in Wuxi last month.
The world no.1 didn’t bring his A-game to the table on Sunday after a difficult semi-final battle with Mark Selby the night before.
But he has increased his lead at the top of the rankings list and cemented the fact that he is quite simply the best player in the world at the moment – of those who regularly play anyway.
Going forward, both Fu and Robertson could be regulars at the business end of tournaments for the remainder of the campaign.
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