Ryan Day produced a magnificent comeback to defeat Marco Fu 6-4 and reach the Ladbrokes World Grand Prix final in Preston.
Since Anthony Hamilton’s win at last week’s German Masters, many people now deem Day to be the greatest player yet to have lifted a ranking title. The Welshman, who has been on the tour for 18 years, has reached the quarter-final stage or beyond 20 times, but is yet to convert a title. He’ll have a chance to shrug off that tag tomorrow as he faces Barry Hawkins for the title.
The Hong Kong potter was competing in his second semi-final of 2017 having reached the last four of the Masters in January. He’s shown imperious form throughout the season and won his third ranking title in December at the Scottish Open. However, Fu was unable to hold off the Welshman this evening.
The early exchanges were characterised by relentless break building power. It was Fu who started off the tie at a blistering pace, making a break of 125 to take the opener. The world number 24 then responded with 72 to level the scores. Fu made 84 to move 2-1 ahead, before Day restored parity at the interval.
When the players returned Fu once again opened proceedings with a century, stringing together a run of 123. The three-time ranking event winner looked set to reach another final when he went 4-2 up. Day then moved within one, before an extraordinary eighth frame.
Fu got in first and appeared to have wrapped up the frame, leading 76-12. Day needed four snookers and looked as if he was going to stay in his chair, after a brief moment’s thought he returned to the table. With the green, brown and blue close together there was a big target for the Welshman to set about finding the snookers. He got them and cleared the table with a break of 30 to deliver a dagger blow to his opponent. Day then won a nervy final two frames to reach the final and secure a minimum of £40,000, the biggest payday of his career.
Day remarked: “I was within a fraction of asking the referee to rack the balls up in that eighth frame. I thought I would give it one more crack with the balls set favourably up.
“We are all here to lift the trophy. There was 32 players at the start of the week and now it’s down to two. It’s going to be a bit of a fight tomorrow and may the best man win,” said Day. “I’ve been playing well all week and there’s no reason why I can’t win tomorrow. In Barry Hawkins I have one of the form players as an opponent. But I’m going to prepare properly and give it my best shot.”
Fu was in reflective mood afterwards and remains positive about his form going ahead into a busy period leading up to the World Championship.
Fu said: “I’m disappointed to lose the match but also relieved it’s over. The way I was playing I didn’t deserve to be in the final. I’m really pleased for Ryan and I hope he can win his first ranking title tomorrow.
“I think I’m playing well but it’s just small things here and there stopping me getting results, but I’m happy with my form.”