Hazel Irvine introduces live coverage of the first semi-final at the 2017 Masters, featuring Marco Fu and Ronnie O'Sullivan. The match is the best of 11 frames.
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Good afternoon. What a week it's been here at Alexandra Palace. This
Dafabet Masters has given us 20 centuries, four fabulous final frame
deciders, startling one-sided matches as well, and it's also seen
the exit of the world number one, Mark Selby. And with it, the chance
of a Selby slam of snooker majors. But, what a weekend of sport it's
left us with, with all eyes on these guys in the semi-finals.
We are both under pressure in the semi-final of the Masters. I'm
really looking forward to hopefully another great match. I played every
ball as if it was so important to the end and see what the result is.
It will be difficult playing a good friend. Sometimes it creates a
scrappy game. Hopefully if I play well, it doesn't go scrappy. He
hasn't got any weaknesses. Everyone knows how good he is. I'm going to
try to be better than he is. It's going to be fantastic.
Two cracking semi-finals Steve. Let's talk about the one this
evening, Barry Hawkins against Joe Perry, what about their progress in
the tournament? Barry is in Masters winning form. He did a job on Mark
Selby. He said it was one of his best matches. He seems to be in
great form. As for Joe Perry, he's come here with the, I'm not playing
well attitude, two great results, in the semi-final? He's in Masters
winning form. He's playing fantastic form, he must fancy the job, best
form of his life. And this afternoon we've got a wonderful occasion,
atmosphere. Marco Fu at 39 playing at his best in his career. He's in
Masters winning form. LAUGHTER.
Marco Fu is in the best form of his life! He put paid to Judd Trump,
that was astonishing. The interesting thing is, all of a
sudden, you've got three players in great form, but they are not tried
and tested winners of major events. One of the players still left in the
event, even though he may not be in the best form of his life, is a
tried and tested winner and Thai got to beat the master in his backyard.
Thank you very much for that, Steve. Hazel, all yours.
The view looks good. By the way, you are in the form of your life today,
Mr Davis, I must say! We've got Joe and we have got his
best friend in the semi-final this evening. I think crowd loyalties
will be rather split between these two Englishmen this evening. You can
bet there are an awful lot of Ronnie fans in this afternoon that's for
sure, they know the rocket is on a trajectory that could land him an
outright record seventh Masters title. He owns the record at sixth
with a certain Stephen Hendry. This is the snooker where he's been at
his best. He was 19 in 1995. Ronnie is our defending champion
this year of course. But he's also been runner-up five times as well.
Today he's bidding for an extraordinary 12th final. The man
who is aiming to knock him off course today is playing some of the
best snooker of his career, Hong Kong's Marco Fu.
I've been in semisin the Masters a couple of times in the past. It's
nice to be able to do it again. I've played quite well since the UK
Championships and have good form brought here with me. It's not going
to be easy. It's nice to be able to play good snooker against the top
eight. It's a great feeling that everything seems to be working
together. I played Jimmy, Ronnie, in the past, in the Masters and
everyone knows what the atmosphere will be like. He's under pressure as
well from expectations from the crowd and I'm under pressure because
I need to play the player and Mrs Play the crowd. We are under
pressure. Doesn't get much bigger than that. I'm looking forward to
hopefully a great match. Marco's won eight out of their 22 previous
matches. It was only about five weeks ago that O'Sullivan and Fu
faced each other in the semi-final of another of snooker's majors, the
UK Championship in York. That went to a decider by the Englishman. The
Hong Kong player has since embarked on a magnificent run, winning the
Scottish Open and producing immaculate snooker here. He's the
highest ranked player at number eight at Ali pale. This is worthy of
a final itself. -- Ali Pally. Nice shirt, Denis, are
you back on Strictly Come Dancing? ! Marco Fu is 39, playing the best
snooker of his career. This is a magnificently big occasion today,
will he cope with it? It is and this crowd have taken to the man from
Hong Kong, especially the way he played against Judd Trump. That
match was incredible. He made three century breaks and a string of other
breaks. Judd played out of his skin and lost. He's got to produce that
sort of form against Ronnie if he's going to have a chance. The thing
with him is his demeanour's changed. His walking around with his chest
back and looking confident in his own ability? He's working with Terry
Griffith's son Wayne who's moved out to Hong Kong, they work together,
and that's a big help to him. Always been a really nice lad but he isn't
half producing some fabulous snooker. He'll have to do it against
Ronnie O'Sullivan. Jealous, Stephen? Of playing here, absolutely! It will
be interesting. If you go on form, Marco is favourite. But Ronnie's got
previous in this tournament. What I've been impressed with with Ronnie
is his will to win. He's not been at his best but every match he's trying
his hardest. We talk about scoring, Ronnie's highest break was still
only 68 so that's got to improve? Absolutely. We know he can turn it
on at any stage. What better stage today to do it. OK boys, interesting
to hear from you this afternoon. Rob Walker let's get it under way.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Saturday's
Snooker Masters, what an occasion and atmosphere here in this famous
old arena. We are ready to rock'n'roll this afternoon Al
Alexandra Palace. APPLAUSE.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE. Please welcome a player who, after
19 years as a pro is producing the best snooker of his career so far,
beating Higgins last month to land the Scottish Open and this week he's
beaten both Trump and Allen to earn a second Masters semi-final, will
the magic come forth once again from the man from Hong Kong, Marco Fu!
And his opponent, who first won this title in 1995. For more than two
decades, he's been snooker's box office draw, six times a Masters
champion, five times a champion of the world, the Rocket, Ronnie
O'Sullivan! Marco Fu runner-up in the Masters
event six years ago. Can he win? Can he earn his passport through to
another final? He's going to have to cope with Ronnie and a partisan
crowd today. This is Ronnie's 13th Masters final, only ever lost one
before. Best of 11. To sort it all out, Stephen and Denis, we are
waiting for you. Good afternoon! APPLAUSE.
REFEREE: First frame, Ronnie O'Sullivan to break.
Good afternoon to everyone watching. What a fabulous atmosphere and what
a thrill it must be for both players to walk into the arena to that
reception. It really was special. Can Marco start the match with a
long pot? A couple of loose reds. And he is on
a colour so an early chance. Can he continue playing in the form he
showed us throughout the week, Stephen? Since the UK Championship
when he was a green or brown with the rest away from beating Ronnie in
the semi-final of that event, since then he's Been making a couple of
tweaks. Slightly longer back swing than normal. He's starting to look
the real deal when it comes to these big events, Denis? He's always been
a fantastic player, everyone in snooker knows that, but he'd go
maybe one or two months then disappear. If he keeps playing like
this, he'll be competing at every big event. Nice, aggressive shot.
Might just be OK, you know. Caught the pink half bull instead of pull
bank but the red will go. I think the white might cannon into the pink
here which wouldn't be a bad thing. This is much more difficult the one
he's taking to stay on the black. I thought he might have taken the
other one which was a slightly easier pot. Yes. This was a very
aggressive red to take. Maybe that is his plan, take the game to
Very good shot. The fact he's covered the red near the right
corner and he had the yellow and blue to use as snookering balls.
Played it well. Marco returned the compliment? No, he's playing dead
weight. He's still covered that red near the pocket.
APPLAUSE. Nicely picked out there. A bit of
pressure on the next pot. Certainly opened the reds up. If
this blue goes in, great chance. A bit of pressure on that early on
in the match. Still expected Ronnie to knock that
in, but it is the opening frame. This is a nice opportunity now for
Marco Fu. Maybe taken just a few moments just to calm down. Such a
massive entrance for both players in the semi-final. Plays at his own
pace. Marco turned professional in 1997
and based himself in Scotland. It's no longer there now in
sterling. Used to have some professionals there. He's always
been a big solo practiser. Doesn't practise a lot with others. Used to
have the odd game. He'd never miss. In Canada, he was best out there for
a while. He wants the black available to both
corner pockets. Nice angle. The red directly above the black. You want
to cannon that and play at a decent pace. There is a chance he could
snooker himself. That is why he played it a bit harder.
I've just got a feeling today that it will be a high-scoring match. So
chances like this, taking them at your first opportunity, are going to
be very important. O'Sullivan hasn't been in his best
scoring form this week. You get the feeling it's going to come out
sooner or later. I think it will have to today Denis
for him to beat Marco. Absolutely. The fact he missed that medium
length blue... Is an early worrying sign. Mar coast's going to take full
advantage. He's had two chances in this frame. -- Marco.
Hadronny knocked the long blue in - this is the blue - had he potted
that, I'm sure he will have made a sizeable break. Normally, we are
used to seeing O'Sullivan start so quickly.
So the black is the first frame. Century in the first frame.
He's on 31 centuries so far this season.
We've had 20 centuries so far in this year's Masters. The
We've had 20 centuries so far in this year's Masters. If you want to
get a crowd on your side, I'll tell you what, this is the way to do it.
Oh, he's missed it! He's missed it. Unlucky. Almost.
APPLAUSE. Ronnie missed that blue and that was
the end of the frame. Marco Fu leads 1-0.
This heavy scoring has been the hallmark of mar coast' game of late.
I was totting it up, since the start of the Championship he's knocked in
21 centuries in 17 matches on his way to winning the Scottish Open and
he was on track there for a fifth century of the week. It's
extraordinary the way he just is not missing a great deal at the moment.
He's always been an excellent scorer as you saw there as well, but
there's just something different about him. He has just Blossomed
into a top, top class player ready to win majors. To beat John Higgins
in his own backyard in Scotland is hugely impressive and he looks like
he's full of confidence. When he's amongst the balls, he's looking like
clearing up. You can't put a price on confidence. So many players down
the years have been confidence players, John Higgins on a run is
like that, there is no stopping him? Also your opponent knows you feel
confidence as well, the reality check, who is the Ronnie O'Sullivan
out there because all of a sudden Marco is getting on with it very
quickly. When you are confident, you spend so little time thinking about
the shot, you seem to be able to focus better on what shots to play.
You are not double thinking yourself and that seems to grow confidence as
well. It also puts more pressure on your
opponent. The likes of the blue Ronnie missed, that will get
magnified if Marco keeps making clearances. Back we go.
A bit short of pace with the break off shot.
Marco knocked a similar red in, slightly easier. Can Ronnie avoid
the black? He's not taking the pot on. It's a safety shot. Don't blame
him. He's one of the best tactical
players in the game. That's certainly opened the reds up.
Look at the length of the cue ball. Seem to open up nicely on the cloth.
Playing beautifully all week. Incredible. So confident at the
moment. There was no looking at the shot.
Well, there is an example. Marco Fu was never blessed, whenever that was
a power shot, that was his weakness. He's bringing the cue back a lot
further than he used to. The power he got on that cue ball was
phenomenal. If he dropped this red in, he could
get the black back on to its spot. Clash The black is still going to be
tied up because it's blocked into both corners.
Might have finished awkward for him. He's hampered slightly with the
black to force it up for the blue. Better to get up to the blue if he
can. Maybe the black goes into the left
corner because he was thinking about swerving around the black there,
maybe it does pass that red. He had to power to get to the blue
and the white. Jumped a few times which happens when you are striking
down on the cue ball like that. APPLAUSE.
Well, you can't beat a nice flick. Certainly got one there.
Can make such a difference that. It was a good shot anyway. But to catch
the yellow was a bonus. Caught the red before the pink. A
little bit surprised. He went into those dead weight. Couldn't have
left much. So he took a bit of a risk there, Marco Fu.
APPLAUSE. That kept on rolling and rolling.
APPLAUSE. He's got a decent chance.
What an atmosphere, Denis. Here Al the Alexandra Palace, it's
absolutely packed. The crowds have been fabulous all
week. They are enjoying this. How many will Ronnie make here?
Looks like a practise set up now, doesn't it. Virtually nothing to do
with the cue ball. You shouldn't see the cue ball travel very far at all
in-between shots. I think he's travelled a bit too far that time.
Change of plan, it's the blue or pink now.
Correct side of the blue. APPLAUSE.
I mean once again he travelled too far. He played two or three little
positional shots which is very unlike O'Sullivan and you can see
the frustration. Normally, the cue ball is on a sting when he's around
about the black. A couple of shots ago he had to go for the blue and
there he missed a cannon. He won't play the shot like that. It will be
a foul. You have got to have one toe on the floor. He gave that cushion a
good old rap there. I remember was it Michael Holt did that and did he
break his finger? He
has got to be so careful going between those two reds. He is going
to have to play the safety shot. He wanted really to push the boat out
there. He was so frustrated with that positional shot. I think he has
calmed down and he'll play the correct shot. Still fuming. And this
is where he has been impressive in his first two matches, Dennis. I
know he is fuming with that shot. His temperament has been excellent
this week. Ronnie O'Sullivan 41.
APPLAUSE It was as if he wanted to bite the
tip-off there. I know that was got a gim heed that
long putt from Marco Fu, it was a chance to really rub salt in the
wound if he could get in and win this frame at that visit.
I think he can get past the blue, you know, to the red to come back
down the table. He's going the other side which is a little bit more
risky. There is two reds to avoid. He might drop in behind the green.
He was playing for the cushion. APPLAUSE
It is not a snooker. He can see the one to the left, but if he takes
this pot on and he'll have to do because there is no easy safety
shot. We have seen him miss a blue in the opening frame which cost him
that first frame. Can he knock this one in?
No. I'll tell you what, Stephen said if Marco Fu can punish Ronnie, he'll
still be thinking about that poor positional shot he played when it
looked like he was going to make quite a big break. This wasn't easy.
We're only in the second frail, but this is a massive visit to the table
for Marco Fu. Such a psychological game, snooker,
at the top level. You can put one on your opponent early on.
This is where he just ran a little bit too far and was very annoyed
with himself. Yeah, I think he was trying to play the cannon on the red
to the right. Just cannon the red to the right there as the cue ball goes
past it. Very unlike O'Sullivan. He needs the black back on its spot
in a couple of shots time. The reason I say that is that red that's
on the cushion, it will be a lot easier to get on to the black if it
was sitting on its own spot. Yes, Dennis, it is so important not to
leave that red until last. Because every chance if you don't get on it
properly and then you would have to play safe. I would be playing for it
now. Screw off the side cushion. Well, he is not done. He can play
now this red he's playing now. Finish high on the black and play
for the red on the cushion. It may have travelled too far. No. He's
fine. So this is a shot for the frame, Dennis, you feel. Just has to
drop it in dead weight and give the pocket a chance. We have seen a lot
easier black than this. This is much tougher. So dead weight
will give the pocket a chance and you've got the perfect picture
there. No. No. Now that is quite a big turning point so early on in
this match. Provided Ronnie goes on and takes the frame.
Just a little awkward with the pink sitting on the yellow spot. So he
might even play for the pink this time. A big opportunity missed
though by Marco Fu. If you touch the cushion and you don't usually see
any reaction from Marco, but he knew that was a big shot that he just
missed there. Green, brown and blue will be
enough. Yeah, what it has done by Marco missing that opportunity is
given Ronnie O'Sullivan a chance to forget all about that frame because
he has won it. If Marco wins it, then he still thinks about it.
APPLAUSE Ronnie O'Sullivan just lost his cool
momentarily and he got a chance and he took it.
A A game of real tension already, you can really feel it, Steve. I
don't mind Ronnie O'Sullivan showing anger. It shows he wants to win
desperately and it was tense very early on. Both players making slight
mistakes and the last mistake is always the one that costs you the
frame and it was Marco's. Three bites at this. This is the mistake
that Marco was stewing about. Stephen mentioned on commentary, the
start of a match, those shots can be pivotal and it was one of those
shots you could miss and unfortunately for Marco he has done.
He had a long red in that frame, he nearly hit the wrong side of it.
When Marco is scoring, he a long red and he nearly hit the wrong side of
it and if he had gone 2-0 stewing in his chair, it might have made a
difference. Ronnie has to live with the pressure of expectation all the
time. Most of the time he is a favourite. Marco Fu doesn't have
that on him until he wins the first frame and it looks like he can win
the second and then he's under pressure. That's the fascination of
the game of snooker. Ronnie said having beaten Neil Robertson, he
said, "I have got to accept the fact that I'm not perhaps as clinical as
I once was four or five years ago, but as a pierce competitor, that
remains undimmed." It is difficult to square that your competitiveness
is still as sharp and you know your form won't reach those great heights
again? Especially if the thing that inspires you is playing wonderful
snooker and that's the thing that drives you forward because the
frustration of not playing to the levels that you think you want to be
can be debilitating, but that's probably as you get older that's
what you have got to suffer. There is one incident Stephen is talking
about Ronnie's cue ball control when he had the three reds on. He could
have played two or three shots and he was annoyed. Yes. He is coming
back in. There is Marco's wife and little Belle. That might be the
youngest of the Fu family with them. But they're here. They're always
there supporting their man and Ronnie is back into the arena as we
head into frame three. Thank you, frame three. Ronnie
O'Sullivan. It has been a fascinating start to
this semifinal. Oh, what was that Marco?
A long way short. Well, maybe he can see enough of that red that's just
to the right of the black to cut it in. The other red is preventing
that. The red the left-side of the table
is a little awkward for the safety shot. You have got to make sure you
don't cannon into this. He may attempt that to get on to the black
as a shot to nothing. No. Just the straightforward up and down safety
An opportunity to drop this red in for the black.
That's Marco's daughter there. Isn't she beautiful?
That's your daddy out there playing. She has just seen herself on the
screen. Yes! Yes, Marco smiling up at his family,
but he has got to get his mind on the job. A semifinal of the Masters,
1-1 against Ronnie O'Sullivan. APPLAUSE
A little bit of a stalemate now that red has gone up the other end of the
table. Not a lot for Ronnie to play. Only just roll into the reds and we
might possibly get a re-rack. Well, what has he spotted here?
Just a gap to get it back to the cushion and played it well.
APPLAUSE It will just take a few shots to
resolve this situation. Yes, as long as the cue ball keeps
going up close to the cushion, there is not a lot you can do. If the cue
ball is away from the cushion you bring the reds back, but even that
shot you're sometimes frightened of knocking a red over one of the
middle pockets. It could be a while here.
It will never catch on this kind of snooker, will it Dennis? It wasn't
your type of frame this. Sometimes they run like that and you get the
balls up the other end of the table. But what does happen when a player
gets in, there is going to be plenty of reds there to score from. Now
that one to the left middle is quite a risky one, but he has had a quick
look at it and he has decided definitely against taking it on, but
that's a bit careless. He has made a complete hash of the safety there.
OK, a little bit unlucky. You never know where the reds are going to
finish, but he didn't get the white where he wanted and now the chance
is there for Marco. Marco Fu has just put himself in a
bit of trouble here. Do you know he might have to play a
safety shot and go up to the black with the cue ball. A golden chance
he let slip there. APPLAUSE
That's what I was saying earlier, when you're bringing the cue ball
back to the cushion, there is always a chance of potting them in the
mid--le pockets. Again, no guarantee where the cue ball is going to end
up. Just make sure they pot. Now, he'll settle for that.
Dle pockets. Again, no guarantee where the cue ball is going to end
up. Just make sure they pot. Now, he'll settle for that. It is not a
gimme this blue, but get this in and an opportunity.
He didn't cue that as smoothly as he did in the first frame. He didn't
get correctly on the red that's why he's having to play this around the
angles. Just overscrewed it slightly. You
want it to be straighter on this brown. It shouldn't be a problem.
He's going to have to pot an awful lot of balls here to get a sizeable
number of points because they're all low valued colours.
He has had a look just to see what's available there and he's way ahead
of himself and he feels that maybe he can drop the blue and he's back
looking at that red to the right of the pink and it looks as if it's on.
That just shows you how far ahead the player is thinking. It is
usually a couple of shots. Very rarely rumour than three shots ahead
of yourself. Four shots. You're just playing the cue ball into an area
each time, but you weigh up the table and you know that it's going
to be there and he had looked at this red about three shots ago.
Didn't get into the cue ball like he wanted. It will be much straighter.
This is now awkward. If he's playing a cannon on the red above the blue,
it will go wrong. No he has natural angle. So a little bit fortunate
there to leave that natural angle. Well, they seem to be all covering
each other the four reds around the pink. He potted seven reds, but he
has only accumulated 34 points because he had to take lower valued
colours. It must be a plant. Just going
slightly to the left-side of the pocket, but he can make that.
APPLAUSE I think it's important for Marco to,
win this frame just to forget that red that he missed along the cushion
that would have given him a 2-0 lead, but he has been blessed with a
terrific temperament also. It was a little bit of an awkward
frame at the start with the reds going up the other end of the table.
And in the end, Ronnie getting back to the black. Well, he did do, but
he left one in the middle. That's the frame now.
The best of 11. The interval still after four frames.
Daddy is clearing up. That's his wife Shirley that's there
and their daughter. Almost made a century in the opening
frame. He has got another chance here.
I just noticed that Ronnie is looking at the tup of his cue there.
I know he made a gesture as if he was going to bite the tip-off, but I
think that was a bit of frustration. So normal play resumes you would
have to say from Marco Fu. This is great stuff. Off, but I think that
was a bit of frustration. So normal play resumes you would have to say
from Marco Fu. This is great stuff. Yes, he is looking very composed
Absolutely terrific stuff from the man from Hong Kong.
Marco leads by 2-1. Ronnie has left the arena. I'm just
wondering if there is a problem with the tip.
Ronnie's tip of the cue has indeed split and there is now talk about
having to replace it. Paul Collier is on stand-by to do so. There was
talk about trying to take the interval early, but we're not sure
if that's going to happen. This is unfortunate from his prospective.
Marco is leaving the arena and he has been told. You get a period of
grace, how long, 15 minutes? I'm not sure. But it is a reasonable amount
of time to put another tip on and repair it and have a couple of hits
on the practise table, but the discussion seems to be around
whether the interval is taken now from the crowd's prospective or you
have one stop after three frames and then another stop after another
frame. I don't know what's going to happen. Rob Walker is making an
announcement and it looks like we are taking the break now. Has he
brought an old tip with him? What's the implication?
It's massive. It's difficult to play screw and stun shots with it. If you
have one that's already been played on, taken off a cue and put on the
end, it's basically like what you have taken off. That's the problem
he's got with it. Hopefully he's been a bit experienced enough to get
a few from the club and he'll be able to put one on. We are going to
take the interval a frame early. And John, you've discussed this, we saw
him slightly uneasy with his cue and you chatted with him? He said the
tip was hard. He said he's not happy with it. It can happen. I've had
tips on cues, you have played with them for ages and they haven't gone
hard. Sometimes you don't know what you are going to get. This was a
situation with Mark Williams at the Crucible last year. He got to the
quarter-final and it was looking for all world like he was going to do
some damage and the night before he played, the tip came off and he
wasn't the same player, it had such a fundamental impact. For anybody
that doesn't know, a tip is a piece of leather stuck on the end of cue
and with the chalk it gives the grip to the ball, otherwise it would slip
off. Leather seems to be the perfect thing, they've never invented
anything better. It's possible that the sides are vulnerable to
splitting, if you play a shot with a side spin, you are hitting the edge
of the tip, they are put under severe pressure. So a lot of the
American pool players are for ever polishing the sides of the tip to
strengthen them up as much as possible. Most of the snooker
players play with a brand of tip that's not so easy to buff up to
such levels sostrengthen it up so they are always vulnerable. How does
it impact your performance if you were to continue to play with it in
that state? Possibly it doesn't but it's in the mind. I've played
matches where I've gotten away with it, I've played where it's been near
the end and certain shots haven't got any impact. I was taught a
lesson when I had a broken tip here. Sometimes a small chunk will come
out and it's the part where you will contact the tip when playing screw
backs, so what you can do, if you are clump enough, you can take the
tip off, turn it 180 degrees and put it back on again. But it's tough
because the tip is the same size. Putting a new tip on, you are
playing with an unknown quantity. You are fiendish, Mr Davis,
fiendish! Ronnie has admitted he's ridden his luck here in the Masters
so far because obviously survived that twitchy black in the pen
ultimate frame. He had three massive slices of luck, flukes against Neil
Robertson, came through that and, as he says, he's ridden his luck but
he's such a fierce competitor. He joked about dragging everyone down
to his level. That's hard to believe. But he's still punching and
fighting and he's he'd a lot more to say to John Parrot earlier. You seem
a lot more level headed about your own level of performances at the
moment. It's easy for you to accept isn't it? Yes, I've worked hard on
that in the last five years, if there was a weakness it was the
mental side. I'm tough, I got down on myself a lot though and that's
cost me a lot of tournaments over the years. Since working with Steve
Peters, I've had to work on that and that's probably the most important
thing for me to work on, the game when it comes easy to me is easy but
I struggle like everyone else. You have to put the work in. Working on
my mental skills has been the massive turnaround in why I've
played so well in the last five years. You seem to have surrounded
yourself with good people. I've had a few undesirables there, you know,
but that's made me appreciate the really good friends that I've got
and I used to think that I had loads of friends but maybe I think now I
have about four. They're four proper, proper friends, I don't
really want any more. I used to have a dressing room full in the Crucible
because I wanted to please everybody but now I think, you know what, it
ain't happening. So I feel better for it. It's nice that you can enjoy
each other's company a bit more when it's intimate. I'm lucky. Are you
happy in your home life as well reflecting in the way you are
playing? I don't know, listen, I've just gotten so used to my life being
all over the gaff since maybe 17, 18. I now just kind of, as long as
I've got my cue, a shirt on my back and a bit of money on my debit card,
I'm all right. I'm back at my mums, I have an empty flat up the road,
there is all sorts of stuff the last ten years, but do you know what,
it's made me realise that I don't get attached to things now, I
just... It's sad in a way because I really should feel like I've got
something to play or live for but I just don't, I think as long as I've
got my cue, play snooker, go here and there, I'm a bit of a vagabond
really. Happy with your lot though? As long as I'm healthy, go to the
gym, keep fit, eat good food. I'm sure as long as I stay on the right
path, someone will always take care of me and look after me until the
day I drop dead. I hope that's not any time soon.
It's the rocket, Ronnie O'Sullivan. This tournament going back to the
Masters, must be a very special event with you being a local boy as
well? Yes, it's a tough event. If you are playing well and you have
the crowd behind you, it's amazing to feed off of them. You feel like
you are letting them down if you don't win. They know I give my best
and try my best. I'm appreciative of all the support I get, but
especially here in London, they get behind you. You know what it was
like for Jimmy when he was playing in his day. Yes. It's not easy to
have that following and try to deliver every time. The big event,
we talk about the Grand Slam, are you bothered more about your record
now or not? You would still like to win, but you are not saying, I would
like to have seven or eight? No, no, I would like to take any tournament
to be honest but the big ones, you know, the UK, the world and Masters,
they are like everybody wants their hands on those. I don't think I'm at
the stage where I could be picky and choosy and put all the eggs in one
basket. There are a few who could do that now in their prime but for me
it's about competing. I love the events, being around the snooker
crowd and the snooker family, if you like. In some ways, it's been
disappointing because I like to do some stuff with the pun didry and I
love hanging around the venue. I love to have something to do at the
venue, so I haven't been able to do that this week so I'm trying to
enjoy every day and appreciate that I'm still able to play a few
matches. Final question - you can still win this can't you?
Absolutely. I think my form would have to improve but I've won enough
tournaments where my game's up at a certain stage, something can click
and you can be flying, so I always have the game being fickle and why
shouldn't I be able to find form. I've had a great week, it would be
great if I could lift up a bit of that Waterford Tony Martin crystal.
He's going to need his patience and everything to cope with this
situation. -- Waterford Crystal. We have taken the international
early so Ronnie can get his tip fixed.
Another two Englishmen, two of snooker's hardy annuals if you like,
two best friends actually going toe-to-toe. Barry Hawkins, last
year's runner up, he's going to play 42-year-old Joe Perry who has been
in the game for 26 years and has at last made it through the last four
in this event. Maybe the writing is on the wall for Joe or on the page
for him this year. The writing here shows a good
rhythm, rhythm is about reasonable consistency without monotony and
people who have rhythm are usually able to cope in a crisis so if this
person is up and pushed into a corner, they are most times able to
cope. It's very large writing. The top of the writing to the bottom is
about 15mm and that is a sign of somebody who definitely needs
recognition. The middle zone, which is about the here and now, the
social side, is 5mm and averages close to 3mm so again, a positive
personality. You have somebody generally optimistic, friendly,
reasonably strong will power. The difficulty them is that they can
sometimes downgrade the likelihood of risk and difficulty that they are
facing, so they have to be careful not to throw themselves into the
game trusting themselves too much without assessing genuine chance of
success. When you have writing which is relatively released like this, as
opposed to tight and contracted, it's somebody who is prepared to
have a go, have a bit of a risk. So it's very important that the other
aspect of his writing comes into play, which is the close letters. If
you look at the red ah arrows, they're close to the point of even
touching. When you have close writing, it's somebody who is
worried about making a mistake and slightly pulling themselves back.
Look at this huge signature. 75mm. Absolutely vast. When you have a
very large signature in comparison to the text, it's somebody who
really does enjoy public life. So that idea of performing on public
television, they want to overshadow the competition, no doubt, but the
issue with a large signature like this is that their identity depends
on the approval of other people. So the problem could be that they might
lose their self-possession if they're criticised strongly. But
what I do like about this writing is these pyramid structures. Look at
how the letters are formed. There is a nice angled structure which is a
sign of stubbornness. Here is somebody with all these issues can
come through and fight their corner. Fascinating stuff. I think he's
probably got Joe to a fairly large degree there. Positive personality.
Willing to have a go. Dislikes criticism. Worried about a few
mistakes. Just like any of us. Covers snooker players in general.
Joe has a big match against Barry tonight. What will be fascinating is
that it could be a very big weekend for the Griffiths family. Father and
son might be pitted against one another in tomorrow's final because
Joe playing Barry who is coached by Terry Griffiths, a 1979 world
champion of course and Terry's son Wayne is the man who's been
responsible for a real leap in performance of Marco Fu. He works
out in Hong Kong with him and what a difference he's made to this man's
game. A coach can help a player to have
the best preparation for a match. When you are out playing in a match,
you are on your own. The best coach can't help you any more. But
behind-the-scenes, before you go into a match, you go through all the
practise routines and the checklists technically. The coach can actually
spot some of the things that you do right or wrong. Very, very tiny
things, but very, very important things.
We are very fortunate to have Wayne working in Hong Kong for us. He's
done a lot of good for my snooker over the years. Most importantly,
he's done a lot for snooker in Hong Kong as well. Ever since he came to
Hong Kong and started working with the squad, the results have improved
dramatically. Wayne helped me to play with more consistency. It's
paid off. I was aiming wrong. My tip was off line. The cue action helped
a lot as well. With the cue action, I used to struggle to play with any
power, now I'm not the most powerful player on the circuit but still I
can play with a little bit more freedom and shot selection-wise, I
can have a lot more choices with the cue action that I have.
Well, Marco mentioned there in that interview a few technical changes
with Wayne. The first one we'll talk about is the fact that he thought
perhaps or Wayne spotted his tip and the butt of the cue weren't on the
line. Let's take the baulk line, a guiding line, put the white on the
brown spot and OK, what Marco Fu is saying that when he lines up on the
shot, the tip of the cue may be in the middle as far as he's concerned
but this exaggerated it. The butt of the cue is not on the line of the
shot. So how on earth would you try then to hit along the baulk line if
this was the case? You would have to try and hook the shot or slice it
one way. So how do you try to actually troubleshoot this yourself
if you don't have a coach? An easy way really is, you have the baulk
line, put the white ball on the brown spot, put the tip of the cue
in line with the shot in the centre of the white ball, drop the cue down
to the edge of the cushion then put two pieces of chalk either side
tight in of the cue. Now all of a sudden get up, go back down again,
drop into the position and check whether that cue is dropping down
between those two pieces of chalk. So you can self-check whether you
are actually getting on exactly the right line or not. The next phase of
that would also be when you actually play the shot, can you deliver the
cue in a straight line without nudging one of the pieces of chalk.
That was the first thing they've been working on. The other thing.
It's a bit unclear from what Marco was saying, he's got a bit more
power. There is a few things, I'm not absolutely sure which one he's
working on, Stephen said he's pulling the cue back further for the
shot. If you have a short pull back to generate the power you have to
explode through the ball. If you give yourself more of a bridge
length and pull the cue back further, even though it's more
difficult to get back to the centre of the ball, you have more time to
accelerate through the ball. I think that's probably what Marco Fu's been
working on. Slightly longer bridge length for the power shots, pull the
cue back a bit further so he's got more time to ram the cue through
like that. Thank you Steve. Marco was always
the classic precision cherry-picker wasn't he? Yes. It was always a
criticism levelled at him albeit it was a brilliant, precise score, he
wasn't perhaps in the power mode. Do you see a difference in the way he's
approaching the game now? There is obviously slightly more shots I've
seen him play. He's potted and skewed back to the baulk area. It's
a massive thing not to have in your game. A lot of players don't have
power and, in some ways, they have to change shot selection to get
around it. To have all the shots in your armoury, what's better than
that. He's talked about the increased feeling of freedom he has.
If you have that, it increases so many options for you? They also
don't have to avoid some of the shots, simple as that. You see
something coming up and think, I fancy this one, you are not
thinking, I can't play this because I don't have the power, now he has.
He's more aggressive, getting more confidence and through that run, he
said at the Scottish Open, I'm slowly developing a winning habit.
For me, John, he's always been an immaculate man in his dress, his
manners and demeanour, but the quality of his play, shoulders back,
he really looks like he believes in himself. I think his demeanour is
one of the things I've noticed about him. Neil Robertson walks around
like a peacock, Marco is exactly that, shoulders back, given off an
aura of, I'm very confident and I'll play well. Don't worry, the other
players will be seeing that. Ronnie is up against it at the moment, not
just at the table, but with the equipment here. We are hearing that
Ronnie is having to apply a brand-new tip to the cue. Now, that
is what you thought he should be desperately trying to avoid at this
point? If he'd have had any old ones he wouldn't be putting a new one on.
He obviously hasn't. If he's good enough to new tip on and play to a
standard good enough to beat Marco Fu, he truly is a genius. As strong
as that? It's incredibly difficult to play. Let me clarify by saying,
if there's anybody that could do it it's possibly him, but 99% of the
others wouldn't be able to. Would Marco view this as a positive? He's
got to blank it, you don't want to think about that and put pressure on
yourself thinking, I'm playing against somebody who shouldn't be
potting all the balls and playing with a tip. Blank it out. There is
one fascinating thing this week, the possibility that still exists that a
new chapter is about to be written in snooker history because, if you
look at the three majors in snooker, there they are, you have got the UK
Championship, the Masters and, of course, the World Championship. The
last time there was a changing of the guard in the outright wins
column of a snooker major was 1999 when a certain Stephen Hendry won a
seventh world title to overtake Steve Davis and Ray Reardon. While
Ronnie shares the honours with Stephen at six, it could be that an
18-year-old wait for a total revision of the rule books could be
upon us. That is a milestone that we could be looking at. Very
significant for the sport? Very much so. Probably might not be seen again
in the history of the sport. You are talking about legends. For Ronnie to
be do it, incredible. Stephen who is in commentary won't be happy with
it. Nevertheless, an amazing achievement from Ronnie who's been
one of the best players, if not the best player I've ever seen. Albeit,
we talked about this last week, he has other things on his mind now,
but the overall picture here from a man who has been chasing the targets
all of his career, to be within touching distance of owning outright
the overall record in a major tournament in your sport, that's
pretty special? Yes. He will play it down and say it's one of those
things, but in the cold light of day he'll be very proud of it. When we
consider what is about to happen when they come back out here, they
are going to have to play, it's best of 11 and Ronnie coming out with
seeds of doubt potentially in the back of his mind. He has no idea.
Will he perhaps have gone for a quick knockabout in the practise
room? Hopefully once the tip is ready to go, he'll give it a few
brushes of chalk and give it a go in the practise room. We can't begin to
tell you how difficulties to come and play with a new tip. He's
probably one of the few people who could do it. Not many could put a
tip on. Joe Swayle maybe he's another one he used to play with a
soft tip. But to play well with a new tip would be some achievement.
Talked about the 16 majors that Stephen Hendry's won, or 18
Stephen's won and 16 for Ronnie. As for Marco Fu's strike rate in
majors, he's been a runner-up in the Masters and the UK, twice been a
semi-finalist at the World Championship. Is this the time that
he can break out and finally become one of the key figures in this
sport? He has always been an absolute top class professional.
Always has been. He's had the game, he's a cherry-picker, takes the odd
reds off. Break-building is phenomenal. Only nine people have
made over 400 centuries in the sport, he's one of them. He's just
been lacking the final ingredient to make the cake exactly what it should
have been. I think confidence is it and he's never played better snooker
than he is now at 39. 22 centuries is great. Since the start of the
Championships, it's an extraordinary strike rate over the last few weeks?
Heaviest scoring as anybody in the game. Nobody would have got as many
as that. Even people winning tournaments. Obviously working with
Wayne is helping him. He's got a very sound technique. The biggest
fact of the lot is the level of confidence he's got. What a
fascinating extra dimension this is to the major semi-final at the
Dafabet Masters, Ronnie Sullivan coming in, brand-new Tipton cue,
show that going to react, how is he going to react to this situation.
Marco is one up. That is the question, how will he
react to that new tip? I'm with John Parrot, if anyone can do it, Ronnie
O'Sullivan can. He seems to be able to just put a new tip on and play
straightaway. Not the sort of thing a player would want but he's pretty
good at doing it, Stephen? Yes. There's been advances in the way
they make tips these days to sort of 15-20 years ago, it used to take me
two, three, four days to knock a tip in. They're made a lot firmer. You
can get grades of how hard the tip is. I had a tip on my cue last year
and could play with it straightaway, it's the way they are made now. Not
quite the drama I think everyone is making out, but still in the
semi-final of a major event, not ideal.
Not going to be hard enough. Come up a little bit short. Difficult to
judge at the best of times. A bit of pressure on whoever put the
tip on! He thought he could take the double
on and wouldn't leave anything, only the red he was trying to double and
he has left it. A bit of a tester, a long pot. Let's see if he can knock
this in and give himself a bit of confidence with the new tip.
APPLAUSE. Judging by the sound that made, that
sounds a little bit on the softer side.
Came up a little bit short but can still plan the Kay none. -- play the
If he wasn't happy with the tip that was on it, now he finds a tip he is
happy with, he could see a different Ronnie O'Sullivan. He could have a
massive boost of confidence. Just about OK. He can hold the red
to the right of the blue. Surely he can't make a frame-winning
break with a new tip on his cue! You wouldn't put it past him.
That got a terrible contact there. He's still on the black but not as
nicely as he would have been without the kick. Just watch this.
He certainly looks a lot happier around the table, Stephen? No doubt,
more comfortable with the tip that he has now than the one that was on
previously. They mentioned in the studio A his
last match that it was very hard, the tip that was on his cue. The tip
is a little softer, then it gives you more of a feel. That's why a
couple of his positional shots have been going awry.
APPLAUSE Quite remarkable, it has to be said.
Run a little bit too far here on the red, but you wouldn't see it being a
problem. He only made one century so far in this year's Masters.
It's not going to be easy to make a century, certainly with the red on
the left side cushion. And this frame has only been going
just over seven minutes. Everything is going.
APPLAUSE Well, I don't know if he can square
this up and play the double. No double. No century. With a brand-new
tip on his cue he has come in and knocked in a 95.
You just couldn't make it up. How would you like humble pie served?
The boy is a freak! He's a freak of nature. Nobody can do that. That
would have flattened many a lesser player that situation and yet he
seems to almost thrived upon it. More comfortable now than before.
Mentally and psychologically, it has all gone wrong. Stop that. But if it
was in a club and you put a new tip on, you can do that, but you
wouldn't expect it on one of our match tables under the conditions
which we play, but what, as John said, Ronnie O'Sullivan is a
marvellous talent. He adapts very quickly. Within a few shots he got
the feel of the tip, but as Stephen said in comment free, if that tip
beforehand was too hard, they are in my opinion, a too hard tip is worse
than a too soft a tip. He has got more grip. The two of you were
saying just listen to the sound of it. What were you hearing? It is
totally soft. He lost position on the black slightly with the kick and
there was a little shot. They are impossible with a new tip on. He
just floated it in. What happens with a new tip, it hasn't
compressed. It is like a concertino and you need to bang it in with a
few frames until it is compressed enough like he will do for the rest
of its life span. Great adjustment by Ronnie O'Sullivan. Frame five. It
is 2-2. That's a pretty good break off as
well. Can't really take this pot on and
play for the black. It is just the wrong angle for that. He might still
have a go at it. He did manage to get around the back. Good cue ball.
APPLAUSE There is the tools of the trade for
a snooker player. I'm not sure about the lighter what he's going to do
with that! Just maybe burn a few of the fibres
off. He was polishing the side of the tip
so thaw don't see it when you're looking down the cue.
Well, it looks as if he's taking this on.
He may have just held for the pink there so it was worth the risk. OK,
the red is near the pocket, but look at the cueing. He won't be potting
that one, you wouldn't think, but he has to remove it from the pocket. If
he bridges overall these reds, and knocks this in, it will be some
shot. A very tough situation there. He
might just have gotten away with it slightly. He wanted to hit it
full-ball when he hit the cushion. There is a long one. And he can get
on the black. Still a chance for Marco to get back
to work. Obviously he had that interval after the third frame which
wasn't planned. He sat and watched Ronnie win the last frame on one
visit so we will see if that's interrupted Marco's rhythm.
This has developed into quite a good opportunity here for Marco.
Just overscrewed it slightly. He wanted to be straight around that
red. It is closest to the pink. So there is a change of plan.
That's OK with the cue ball there because he has got very little to do
with it. Just drops the blue in and he has a choice of reds for the
listened corner. The left-hand corner.
Well, I think you said at the start of the match Stephen, you will see
quite a few high breaks here. I think your predictions will come
through here. He had a 95 in the previous frame. So it's building up
very nicely this semifinal. It could be a cracker.
He may have to play the second red. The one that is to the left of the
two. I don't know if he's straight enough on the bottom one to fall
through for the black. From that angle it looks like it's
OK. He has followed through. Again, a
couple inches further. He's going to have to cannon that end red. The red
furthest to the right of the bunch. Yes, perfectly played.
APPLAUSE That was the key shot to paving the
way for making a frame-winning break here.
He has judged a couple of those shots, Stephen, those little
cannons, he played them perfectly. A lovely touch. Very economical style.
He is starting to look like a machine when he gets in amongst the
balls. He's in line for the high break
prize. He made a break of 140. He has had five centuries so far this
week. Yes, I think he made 11 or 12 and winning the Scottish Open before
Christmas. He is just turning into a scoring machine. It is the biggest
attribute you can have as a top snooker player to win frames like
this on one visit on a regular basis. And from a psychological
point of view after watching Ronnie winning the last frame on the 95
break with a new tip, this is just what the doctor ordered for Marco
Fu. And also how quickly is he playing? I know it helps when you're
in perfect position every shot. Brilliant.
APPLAUSE Absolutely superb from Marco Fu.
That's the 22nd century so far this week.
You see, look at that. It's not often you see a quicker time than
ron reportings but again down to the fact that he has the cue ball on a
string. Well, it is not down to his coach, originally he was with Wayne
Griffiths. Then he was with Terry Griffiths. He
didn't get that shot selection from Terry. He could beat his own high
break by one point. What an effort. 134.
Made absolutely sure. Marco Fu has just cleared the table with a mag
nift icant break of 141 and he is back in the lead, 3-2.
What a frame of snook thremplt Ronnie got in first. He finished
very, very awkward and had to bridge over a red and just try the safety
shot and mis-hit the safety shot and that was it. Yes, as well as other
things that Marco Fu has got going for him is his temperament, the
circus that went before, finishing a frame early for the interval to do
with Ronnie's tip, Ronnie comes out and makes a 95 and he just calmly
gets down and knocks 141 in, in how long? Seven minutes, eight minutes?
Yes, I said, it was just what the doctor ordered from Marco Fu and I'm
talking about doctors, there is a doctor in the house! That's doctor
Miriam Stoppard. She is a delightful lady. I spent sometime with her. She
was a delight to be with. She has got a lovely smile. Thank you, frame
six. Marco Fu to break. A quality opening red here from
Ronnie O'Sullivan. He had to aim down slightly on the cue ball to
create that angle to get around the back of the black.
He will have enjoyed watching that break from Marco Fu and also he'll
enjoy the challenge of trying to get the better of it.
Maybe enjoy is the wrong word, appreciate, you don't enjoy sitting
in your chair watching an opponent clear up. He will have appreciated
the skill of it. The match with Judd Trump that Marco
had was quite extraordinary, but this is building up to a similar
type of match. Judd had two centuries. A few other really high
breaks, but Marco was awesome. He had three centuries in that match.
He already had two in this. But Ronnie looks a different player, it
has to be said. He certainly feels comfortable with his new tip.
A tough bunch of reds to go into from this angle, but he is one of
the best in the business at picking out the right cannon. It is so easy
to stick on these. When you see that shot again, it is hit perfectly. He
needs to hit the red, the third red, so it pushes it into the bunch. He
could not hit that any better. The three reds above the black, that
one, he has to hit on the right-hand side of it. Any other part of that
red and they don't open. A fantastic shot.
I'll tell you what, it is an absolute pleasure to be sitting and
commentating on this sort of match. It really is fabulous to watch. Look
at the pot success rate. Yes, he looks like he loves this new
tip on the cue, but he will be enjoying this challenge that's up
against him today. Playing a man at the top of his form, as Marco Fu is.
These frames are not lasting very long, are they?
Now, full concentration to see if he can respond with a century break.
You can't beat the high break, that's for certain, but well even if
he doesn't make a century, it doesn't really matter. But a great
response this. Marco can't do anything about it. And this
Alexander palace crowd they are being royally entertained here.
APPLAUSE He might be able to pot the red
that's closest to the black. If not, the cannon. No, it will go.
Well, this is stunning. Absolutely stunning snooker.
In between the yellow and brown. APPLAUSE
A straightforward game. That's another century. Ronnie's
first of the match. And he has made 858 centuries now in his career. Who
is going to bet against him getting to that magical 1,000 centuries?
Wouldn't that be something in a career?
What a response from Ronnie O'Sullivan. Marco Fu made a break of
141. The response was, that superb century, 1222. We're all square.
3-3. I can't wait for more of this! I couldn't agree more. We are
driving on towards what could be a record number of centuries. In the
current format without a wildcard round, the biggest number is 28
centuries made in 2015 and that's the 23rd of the week so far.
Ronnie's second, but what stunning stuff from the two of them and that
141 in the previous frame from Marco Fu beat his own high break of this
week of 140. It just gets better and better. Loving this. I'm still in a
state of shock that he can play with that tip because it is a
manufacturer's tip. He got hold of the cue ball and it is in perfect
position every time. What I would say, even though he is a genius,
that proves that inn a way, a great match, but in a way, you could argue
he has been a bit lucky to pick out of a box of the particular tip he's
using which is an American made tip, which is a cheap and cheerful one,
but most players preferred it and picked a good one out of the box as
opposed to one that was another hard one or a very, very soft one! A
little bit of experience by Paul or Ronnie. You test them and squeeze
them to get a feeling if it is going to be a hard or soft one. You never
really know until you cut down the sides and put it on. And as John was
saying and Stephen were saying there are some tips around that are more
expensive that are actually a lot more guaranteed that the pressure
you're going to get on them. Tipgate aside, the fact that he's respond to
go this challenge says so much about him. That's what sometimes he needs,
isn't it? When you have got as much talent as he is got, some games
comes easy, but he is playing somebody at the top of his game
today and he's enjoying this. And Marco Fu is giving as good as he
gets here. What a match. I open you're enjoying this semifinal of
the Masters. We said this is where we have a final and so it is
proving, one of them will be going through to tomorrow's final? Will it
be Ronnie or the man who has been in the final before, only to be beaten
six years ago, Marco Fu? Back we go. Ronnie O'Sullivan to break.
I'll tell you what Stephen when Marco can go back into the arena
there, he got a fabulous reception from this terrific crowd.
How much quicker can these two players get? Ronnie O'Sullivan just
equalled Marco down to the 16 seconds a shot.
Marco played that red thinking it was the only one that he could leave
possibly and missed it and how often does that happen?
Well, one red, one black, Dennis, what do you think? You are naughty,
Stephen! Well, in practise or in exhibition
you play the right-hand side of those two reds and brush off the
pack for the black. Still part of this shot. Yes, he has done.
APPLAUSE Concentrating on the frame. Yes, the
crowd... Thank you, let's have a lull, please. Ronnie, even Marco was
smiling. Ronnie, as all players, the main concern is the frame. That's
nice to see. Of course, he made that maximum
break on 13 occasions, just overtook your record, Stephen, 12 you made.
Never been in front in the semi-final. Time to take the lead?
We didn't see that coming. It was just a little bit of a distraction
with that red there having to bridge over it that caused my opinion to
miss that. That's the only reason I can think of why he missed the
black. Loose red to the right of the bunch.
Big target if you wanted to go into them and really open things up.
Another big moment in this match. So often a deciding factor in these
matches are, not the frames that you should win, it's the frames that you
shouldn't, the ones that you can pinch. Such a fine line between
winning and losing when both players are playing so well.
He's just finished a little awkward. He took the opportunity to open more
of the reds up there. Just having to stretch quite a bit here.
A little straighter on the black than he would have liked but that
shouldn't be a problem. So important, this red. This clears
everything. No excuses now not to win the frame at this visit from
Marco Fu. He doesn't want to be playing a
cannon because they are all available.
Rather than forcing that in... Next to the pink.
This would be quite a frame to pinch for Marco here.
Caught Ronnie shaking his head there. He knows at this standard he
can't afford any mistakes. We showed you the shot of Ronnie
bridging over the red a little awkwardly. This was the one.
You don't see him shake his head very often. But he knows Marco's not
going to miss. He's thinking very clearly at the moment, is Marco Fu.
So composed Marco Fu. Just blue to make absolutely certain and it's
straightforward. You just can't make a mistake in
this game the way these boys are playing. Another fabulous frame of
snooker. Ronnie O'Sullivan after 47 finished a little bit, missed the
black and that was the end of it. Marco Fu with that lead is back in
with it. Such a calm, confident air about this man. This is really one
of the great matches that we've seen isn't it? It is. The thing is, you
expected Marco to clear up. I mean, I just felt that, you know, I wasn't
looking for, where is he going to crack or feel he's under pressure.
At the moment he seems impervious to the pressure. Earlier on when his
wife and young daughter came in the room, he's confident enough and
relaxed enough to just have a chat during the game. Can you imagine
doing that? ! That is interesting. That is his elder daughter, Belle,
Amelia is outside playing, I believe and Shirley just flew in from Hong
Kong so he hasn't seen them for a while. So to be able to say hi, how
are you doing, then to carry on is great, but a tough one for Ronnie
1234 sn As Stephen said, it's winning the frames you shouldn't
win. Ronnie had a difficult shot. Missed it there, but you can't
always think all the balls are going to go after that. But Marco, I agree
with Steve, will get the balls in. His composure to think clearly when
the pressure is on? The cue ball doesn't move anywhere, he's so tight
into the next ball! It's Fu back in the lead at 4-3.
Both players are getting the breakoff pot and getting the white
close to the cushion meaning it's a difficult pot. If you are away from
the cushion, it's slightly easier. Looks quite a thin snick this, but
maybe it's OK. A bit too pacy. So he's restricted
now to what he can do with the cue ball. The red that's to the left of
the bunch of reds, he'll have to angle that and cannon the blue, then
he can concentrate on the pot and the position will take care of
itself. Just hit the blue. A bit of movement
in his body there in that shot. That wasn't his normal smooth
playing style. A little bit of movement at that
time. He normally does that. The fact he was tight on the cushion
almost, that's slightly more difficult. Finishing short on this
red so he could bring more reds into play when potting this.
Missed a similar black in the previous frame but he was bridging
over a red that time. Just managed to avoid cannoning the
red there which could have spoiled things. Judged it to perfection.
Three reds above the black, he could push through to the black one. That
is what he played. Hasn't worked out though. When he hits
Needs a special pot if he's going to continue here. Remember what
happened in the previous frame, a 47 break wasn't enough. This is a very
tough shot. Oh, what a shot! APPLAUSE.
Through the gap, redthe pink. He was always going to finish low on this
red. Just didn't quite judge it. When
you're cannoning other reds, there's always a possibility you can finish
on the cushion. Shouldn't be a problem covering that red. It's over
the right corner pocket. Has to make sure he locks the path
through to that. And the brown near the cushion for
It's a very healthy lead, 54 points, but not a man in the form that Marco
Fu is. Will he get a chance? Very clever indeed.
APPLAUSE. Acknowledged by Ronnie tapping on
the table. OK, there is a potable red into the left middle but look
where the cue ball's tucked up. That last shot that Marco Fu played,
shows how well he's thinking to just get down and play that safety shot.
Seen it straightaway. Oh, brilliant shot. Look how
confident he played that. Look what he's leaving. Should he have missed
that red? Just floated it in. He's just seeing everything isn't he.
Oh, decelerated on that. Chose to take the most difficult red.
That's what happens when you decelerate, you miss the pot thin.
Wow, that could have been a huge turning point had he pinched that
frame after pinching the previous one.
They are just so evenly matched now in this semi-final. First sign of
weakness I've seen in Marco Fu for the first time in a long time, in
this match. APPLAUSE.
Would have been a strong favourite had he have taken the frame. But you
just sense that this could go to a deciding frame. We have had some
fabulous matches all week. Quite a few of them going the distance.
Average frame time of 12 minutes. Just shows you the quality of
snooker. Much safety play. It's been whoever gets in first here.
Finished the frame off with a break of 63. Marco Fu did have a chance,
missed that red, with the rest, and we are back all square again, 4-4.
Marco had the chance for another steal as in the previous frame, but
Ronnie on 55, was it the right shot that the rest have taken on? I think
so. I think where he landed, where he finished, he knew full well, if
he was perfect on the red, if he drops it in, it was a perfect
position. He's just missed it. Interesting what Stephen said, I
said virtually the same thing to you, is that the first sign of a
little bit of pressure showing in the match, but nevertheless the
right shot to take. You can't argue with it. On many occasions we say
take the difficult ball earlier than the last ball because it may make
the lest rest of the clearance easier. He's done that. That's not
much different to taking the red along the top cushion when there are
two left. That's what you would do. It put him under pressure, he's
playing that with the rest and in a way, he's going, if I get this in,
this could be frame ball. He's got to clear all the balls up. The
argument against that is that he's playing it with the rest and it may
have been a way of extricating that red from the side cushion in another
way. Later on, yes. He's been playing so well. He must have
fancied every ball he went for, but it was with the rest. He's been so
cool. We talked about that in the last frame. Does your opponent feed
on little signs like that, that perhaps you are under it? They have
to because there's been no mistakes, it's been that good. True. Any
little sign of weakness you can cling on to you are going to take.
They are both absolutely at each other. Ronnie O'Sullivan banged the
table earlier when he failed to get position of the ball. Marco Fu
nearly banged the table. That's qieflt of Ronnie banging the table.
Almost unheard of from his perspective. His expression actually
changed! He's deliberately cultivated that level. It's a poker
face he's done, not to show weakness so when it does crack, it takes you
aback. He's got a fabulous temperament. We have been extolling
his virtues this week and his temperament is to keep smiling.
Ronnie giving a bit of attention to the equipment there. There's Belle
with mum Shirley, just flown in from Hong Kong. Looking for her dad.
She's a real live wire that one. A couple of years ago at the UK
Championship, she was one of the stars of the show. Cheeky little
smile. She's a real sweetheart and her dad is doing fantastic things
here as he tries to go for a first major title. Best of three, Belle
Shirley everybody else on tenterhooks to see how this is going
and the pressure really on now guys? Yes, it is, what a fantastic match
and tournament we have been treated to. Probably I've said many a time
worthy of a final. They met in the semi-final. Two great players.
Remains to be seen whether Marco can keep the form up and can Ronnie - I
think he's got oaf the new tip - Ronnie is in a good mental state
now. What percentage of increase in level that we have seen over the
last couple of days from the match has he played against Liang and
Robertson now? It's chalk and cheese. I think he's really enjoying
the challenge today. He's playing against somebody at the peak of his
form and he wants to get into the final. It's ban wonderful match,
plenty more to come. 4-4, best of three, here we go.
Once again, good pace with the break-off shot.
APPLAUSE. If he's got a slight angle on this
red, he might just be tempted because he could drop on the black,
the only thing he could possibly leave would be the red. It's now
down to the best of three. Just decided against risking that.
The crowd have been fabulous throughout this match. We don't need
a single one shouting out at the wrong time, it spoils it for both
the players. The red that's closest to the cue
ball, he could come off that the left hand side a bit thin leave the
cue ball up by the yellow pocket and hopefully bring the black into play
as well. That was a risky one to Nestle and
you are trusting that the table's going to run perfectly through. You
can always get a little deviation from the cloth and he didn't judge
it as he intended. It was the first negative shot that Marco Fu's played
in a long time because it could have gone thin and brought the cue ball
back to where it was but he obviously thought that was the one
he played was the easy one to play. REFEREE: Can you stop moving,
please... Someone on the front row was moving around having a drink,
probably brought some water in with him.
He can come off the bunch and it's not that difficult a shot to take
the cue ball back up to where he was playing from.
Not the way he's been playing so far this afternoon, that shot.
This was the one where you can see him dropping the cue. He knew it was
a great chance. Meanwhile, he knows that Ronnie hasn't finished on the
red as nicely as he would have liked. It's all about a cannon here
when he hits the black. Can he avoid that? He could. Left handed as well.
APPLAUSE. To get that sort of action on the
cue ball with your opposite hand to avoid cannoning the black was
excellent. Since the interthat will, and we had
the interval after three frames, he made breaks of 95, 122, 47, 55 and
63 in the previous frame. 141 and 83 breaks for Marco Fu.
APPLAUSE. Gone too far. A smile there, but six
inches further than he intended. This was the one he misjudged
slightly. He knew it would be too hard.
I think he can see enough of the red, but the brown is quite a
distraction. The red just nearest the blue, but very awkward cueing
along the side of the brown there. Managed to cover that red. That's a
tricky situation he was faced with there.
There is Nick Peanut Baines. He is a keyboard player with the Kaizer
Chiefs. He loves his snooker. Well, this red, to the right of the table,
there is pressure on this. If that red keeps running, he's safe
for relatively safe. He got away with that one. There is
only one pottable red. That's the one that just between the pink and
black. That's the only possible red he could pot, but he may cannon into
other reds. So it's very difficult. Just the safety shot. I don't blame
him. Well, we've had everything in this
match only bouts of safety and now we're getting that! There has been a
string of breaks. It is nice to see the tactical side of the game also.
Oh. He got a good cue ball, but if he
can get tight up behind the colour, he will gain a good advantage. We
will show you this fluke to plant. He doesn't want to get too cute and
try and get too close to the brown. Oh, that cue ball ran off. That ran
off a mile. It only moved the space of just about over a foot. Watch
this cue ball go to the right. That's shocking.
Well, nothing Marco Fu could have done about that. Sometimes you get
it along the baulk line. But instead of being snookered, if this green
goes in, it could be the end of frame, but it's not easy.
A fabulous pot. You see what he's leaving.
What a difference that would have made, Dennis. It would have stuck
Ronnie up tight behind that brown ball. It is just a little awkward
here for the good positional shot. He can't make his mind up.
Yes, sometimes you're faced with a shot and you know it's not just a
matter of potting the ball and getting nicely on the next colour.
He still can't decide which way to play it.
And in the end he made it look very, very easy with a very, very delicate
screw shot. Yes, a puff of the cheeks.
Always glad to get that one out of the way, but very unfortunate for
Marco Fu. OK, he was a long way behind, but had he of got the
snooker which he normally would have done without the ball drifting, as
we show you it again, and suddenly little things are just going in
Ronnie's favour. I mean, he has played fantastic stuff. I think that
turning point in the previous frame when Marco missed the one with the
rest that would have given him a 5-3 lead if he had of pinched that
frame. It is like the first time in the match, the enormity of the
occasion got to him and he the opportunity to go 5-3 ahead.
He won the previous frame with breaks of 55 and 63.
This is following a similar pattern. He has had breaks of 46 and now
there are. -- this. Oh, what a shot that was.
You don't see that very often. You don't see that shot played very
often. And the black is on its way. A break
of 46. He followed that up with that break of 82. The Rocket really has
lifted off and now he's just one frame away from the place in the
final. It is 5-4. A lot hinged on that roll off from
Marco earlier on. This was a bad one. He is very unlucky there. I
agree with Dennis, sometimes you get them along the slate line, but there
is no slate line there. You could see it going right. OK, it is a
little bit hard anyway, but to pull off like that is unlucky. Some
cracking stuff from Ronnie O'Sullivan again. 46 and 82 in that
frame and there was a lovely green to the middle pocket that we were
oing and ahing about. Ronnie O'Sullivan, you know, he does know
how to take a frame by the scruff of the neck and the sign of a great
champion, when needed, he seemed to have upped the pace in the whole
tournament. OK, we talk about form and playing your first round match
and winning it easily, it is about how you end up the tournament, not
how you start off. Ronnie O'Sullivan with a brand-new tip on, regardless
of how fantastic that is, all of a sudden he looks like a champion. Do
you detect any signs of tentativeness in Marco at this
point? Can that be attributed this situation to him, or is this all
about Ronnie? If he loses the match, people will look at the rest. It is
so important. In the grand scheme of things, there is not a lot wrong he
has done. Certainly not in this match. He has played as good as he
can do, but he has got a fully focussed Ronnie O'Sullivan who is
enjoying the challenge today and that's what the problem is. It has
been a challenge that's been even more magnified by the equipment
failure with the cue earlier, but somehow he has come back, he
produced his best stuff of the whole week since that technical fault if
you like at the end of frame three. He is one away from booking a place
in yet another Masters final. Both players have been breaking off
very well. They're finding that baulk cushion and they keep leaving
a half chance, but because the white is so close to the cushion, it makes
it very, very difficult. This will be interesting to see if
Ronnie is tempted by this red to left corner to drop in the black and
you can see if he misses it. He would have to be leaving Marco Fu a
chance. Well, he might be refusing it. It looks like he will leave the
cue ball on this top cushion. Or is he taking the pot on?
APPLAUSE What a fantastic pot, but that
always looked like the natural angle for the cue ball to go. A tremendous
pot. Yes, he also slid off the side of
the pack and finished on the black. He might have left a red to the
right middle pocket. I think he was playing to just land on that red.
Yeah. He has left a possible pot. But no easy colour available if he
takes that on. Yeah, it was quite clever really. It's going to take
some shot for Marco to get on the black. That was always the danger.
An element of safety as well. You can see where the cue ball is.
That's a little bit on the thick side, but I think the pace of the
table will still take him behind the yellow. He would have been trying to
get the cue ball tight on the baulk cushion, but that will do very
nicely. There is no easy route back to the
safety zone from that position. APPLAUSE
I think this Alexandra Palace crowd have taken to Marco Fu. I think the
snooker he has produced this week has been scintillating especially
against Judd Trump and when you knock the balls in and you play
great snooker, you'll get the support of the crowd. Just look at
that crowd. What an atmosphere these two players have had to play in this
afternoon. 2,000 people in the Ally Pally. Noise when it's needed.
Silence when the players are at the table.
Where is the cue ball going? It's OK.
APPLAUSE And have a look at the reds. That is
what you call an attacking safety shot.
Certainly no easy escape back down the table from that position.
You would have to be very accurate, indeed.
The white is tight on the cushion to the left of the black, he'd cover
that red that's on for the right corner, but he thought of quite a
few options. It is not often Ronnie thinks about
a shot this length of time, but it is very understandable here.
It was worth waiting on. I said he'd do well to find a path down the
table. He found a pot and he found a way back down the table and he's on
the brown to get back up to the reds. He spotted something on the
cue ball, but that is the shot, probably of the tournament, from
that position. To pot that and to fin the gap. -- find the gap.
Dennis is talking about the whole tournament. It could have been so
different in Wen had potted that black in the first round. This man
at the table was within a black ball of being knocked out. Now, he looks
odds on to be making tomorrow's final. And going for a record
seventh Masters title to overtake Stephen's six Masters.
Still at 97%. Someone in his line of sight there, "Come on, mate."
He's doing the right thing. Thank you, that's enough. He's settling
himself. He knows the importance of this visit. He really is fired up
here. He has just asked someone to keep
still. It must be a photographer. It has to be.
Well, Marco Fu has just got to sit there and hope that something can go
wrong here for Ronnie, but he looks very, very focussed does Ronnie
O'Sullivan. It has been an absolutely fabulous
semifinal match this between two players at the top of their form.
Very few mistakes have been made. The odd error that was costly
because of the way either player are playing. A little bit of misfortune
misfortune with that ball rolling off.
APPLAUSE I don't think I have ever seen
Ronnie O'Sullivan as animated as he is today. It seems every shot has
got a different facial expression. The will to win is ferocious to get
into that final. Well, this is going to finish a
little awkward. 51 in front. He is not many pots away from securing a
place in the final. It's there. He is going to play it left-handed
if he can reach it. Why not? And that is a lovely gesture from
Marco Fu there. It has been a fabulous semifinal as I mentioned.
We said Marco Fu had to play at the top of his game. He did that. He's
still applauding. That's the type of character that Marco is, but they've
treated this Alexandra Palace audience to some brilliant,
brilliant snooker. It doesn't matter.
That was lovely to see both players. It has been a fabulous semifinal. It
would have been a great final. In the end Ronnie O'Sullivan was just
brilliant and he goes on to beat Marco Fu which 6-4. He's in the
final! This Ally Pally crowd is on its
feet. That was truly awesome, gentlemen. Fabulous afternoon of
snooker. Two players at their best. I feel sorry for Marco because
nobody else but that man would have beaten him today. You see his face
when he won there? He was euphoric. We saw the fist pump and we saw
Marco applauding him. That's all you can do particularly in the final
frame when he picked the red out and got on to the brown. You can only be
admiring of that and we have seen Ronnie O'Sullivan on many occasions
produce something special, but from the add verity of having to change
his tip half-way through and being up against it against a player that
was playing so well, that was one magnificent performance. He should
be very proud of himself. Well, he is through into a 12th final.
Ronnie, fantastic. May I say, that's how you break a tip in!
Against all that adversity, how did you cope because at that point in
the match you're down. Go through that for us? It's crazy. I was
cueing really well and I just thought, I was on the practise table
and I kept getting out of position and I thought this ain't me! If I
had of been cueing bad. I've tried that. No, I knew it wasn't me. It
wasn't me. I just said to my mate, we was steaming it. I had my cue tip
over a kettle because that's meant to soften it up and it didn't have
no effect. I just went out there and I just couldn't play any shots. I
had no touch, no feel and I'm a touch and player and if I haven't
got that, I might as well go home. I need something, so hi to put a new
tip on and it was a decent tip. How do you play with a new tip? I'm not
a bad player. The tip was split though. It was completely gone. It
couldn't take no chalk. I miscued five or six times. It was chalking a
bit of slate. I said to my friend, it is like a bit of slate. I was
going to wait for the interval, but it was so gone and they said you can
take the interval now. I was like sweet.
slightly. He knew it would be too hard.
How risky going for a new tip? No risk at all, I would never have won
that. I knew that unless I raised a gear, I was going home, mate, he
would have knocked me out. It was the only decision to make. OK, 95
immediately when you came back into the arena then you throw in a 122,
but there was a moment in frame 8 where he missed with the rest when
he was up here and if he cleared that, you were on 55 weren't you.
Yes. It was at that point we maybe saw a bit of frailty and that was a
turning point? It's the Masters, 2,000 people, 50-odd behind, we are
capable of missing anything. He's got no problem with bottle, he's a
tournament winner, but anyone in the world in the history of the game
could have missed that. They'll tell you that. It's not easy. If he had
his hand on the table, I fancied clearing up. All of a sudden he
played the roll up, it seemed to perhaps hit a finger mark. Strange
situation? I don't know what happened there, I can't remember.
Listen, I mean, at the end of the day, if you don't play well, the
other guy can have luck. If you play well the other guy can have luck and
gets bits of this, but if you play well you can overcome it. I had a
lot of luck but he should have still beat me because I weren't very good.
We were discussing the level you played at today, comparing it to
your previous games. I said three years ago, I'm never taking another
tip off and I stuck with this tip and it was a terrible tip. I stuck
with it and stuck with it and I was like, you know what, it's coming
off, but that's sometimes what you have to do, make an instinctive
decision. Everyone around me was, what the hell are you doing and you
have to live by the sword, die by the sword. You looked like you
enjoyed that match? Probably one of the best I've won. I fancied the job
even with a new tip. I thought if I can get a feel of it, I'm playing
well enough to counteract that. If you are playing well, you can get
away with a new tip. If you are playing bad, you get a new tip on
and it's Overmars. You are into your 12th final. Only won six, not a very
good strike rate. You could still take this record on your own. I
wonder who you fancy tonight, Joe or Barry? I don't care, to me I've had
a Saturday afternoon out, what else would I be doing on a Saturday
afternoon, 2,000 people, unbelievable, lucky, luck you boy
and I'm lucky I have all day tomorrow. A great week so far. Last
year, I was really under pressure because I done my back in and I was
doing interviews and you thought I was losing the plot, you lot.
Nothing personal. I never thought I would play properly again because I
done my back in so bad. This year I'm so relaxed because I think, I
have perspective and Steve said, don't tell anyone you are playing
better. I've come through a lot and I feel that everything's a bonus.
I'm still twitching out there and I still want to win, don't get me
wrong. We saw the fist pump, it meant a lot to you? It meant a lot
to me. Marco is such a lovely guy but I just felt all the way through
that match, I can win this but I know I've got to play well and I
can't make many mistakes. I the new tip, a little shot was missable and
I thought, it's up against me but I can do this. When I done it I was so
relieved because I have another day to get used to the tip so I'll be
quiet now. You don't have to be quiet. Another semi-final tonight.
You will enjoy that. What an awesome performance. It's been an absolute
pleasure. Thank you, thank you so much. We are back at serve tonne see
which Englishman, the Hawk or the Gentleman, that Ronnie will be
playing. Hope you can join us then, but what an afternoon. Thanks for
your company. Bye for now. I bet he can rub his belly
and pat his head.