Snooker: Fu's fame in the frame

MARCO FU, the great new hope of Asian snooker, confirmed his promise with an opening victory over the seasoned professional Gary Wilkinson in the Liverpool Victoria UK Championship at Bournemouth yesterday.

Fu, a Grand Prix finalist in Preston last month, defeated the 1991 World Matchplay champion 9-4 to reach the last 32. However, he was denied a showdown with the original flag-bearer for Asian snooker, James Wattana. The world No 15 was crushed 9-3 by Scunthorpe's Matthew Couch, the world No 78.

Fu's performance at the Grand Prix made him an instant celebrity back home in Hong Kong.

And it caused him to cut down on his practice for the current event. "I was met by reporters at the airport when I arrived home and it never really stopped until I got back to England," Fu said. "I didn't really organise my time as well as I should have done, but my run in the Grand Prix created a lot of interest and it took off after I beat Ronnie O'Sullivan.

"I'd love to have another good run here but it's a tougher tournament to win. The longer frame matches usually suit the better player so we'll have to see what happens."

Fu still looked jet-lagged yesterday when he dropped three of the first four frames to Wilkinson, the world No 18. But he finished the opening session 5-3 up and rarely looked in danger of conceding his advantage. A break of 71 doubled his lead and he got within one frame of victory before Wilkinson pinched frame 12 on the blue. There was to be no escape, however, and Fu moved into the second round by potting the last three colours of the 13th frame.