BERLIN, GERMANY – The second semi final of this years German Masters begins at 7pm (GMT) this evening as Dartford’s Barry Hawkins goes head to head against Hong Kong’s Marco Fu for the right to play Essex’s Ali Carter in tomorrow’s final at the Tempodrom Arena.
The reigning Goldfields Australian Open champion, Hawkins, has been installed as the match favourite and can be backed at 8/11 (bet £11 to make £8 profit) with Ladbrokes while Fu is the slight outsider and is on offer at a tempting 11/8 (bet £8 to make £11 profit) with SpreadEX.
Surely one of the reasons for Hawkins being the match favourite is that he has won his maiden ranking event at the start of 2012/2013 snooker calendar and is also having his best season in the paid ranks since he turned professional in 1998, but the overriding factor to the 8/11 price is the victories that Hawkins has had and the manner in which he has achieved them this week in Germany. His last 32 contest against Thailand’s Dechawat Poomjaeng was a standard rock solid performance from the Kent cue man that included a century break of 106, his last 16 match was against an all together different class of player to Poomjaeng as he faced Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen, whom he had never beaten after the first seven times of asking. Hawkins is not the sort of player to worry about past records and would rather put 100% belief into himself and his technique; he did just that, and with breaks of 72, 90, 102, and in the last frame, 122, to finish the match off in style, he defeated Allen 5-1.
His next task, if possible, was even harder as he faced the World ranked number one player, Mark Selby, who was on 16 match winning streak and had not lost in an event that carried ranking point since November 2012. Hawkins was not overawed and once again turned on the style with breaks of 58, 53 and 66 to condemn Selby to a 5-1 hammering.
Hawkins’s challenger, Fu, is a competitor of undoubted class. He turned professional in 1997 and just one year later featured in his first ranking event final at the 1998 Grand Prix. Fu has since won three major events, the 2003 Premier League, the 2007 Thailand Masters (none ranking) and the 2007 World Open, he has lost in a further three finals and 13 semi finals. Compare this to Hawkins who has been beaten in just four other ranking semi Finals before he won in Australia earlier this season and there is definite gulf in class with the statistics provided.
Perhaps Fu’s biggest down side as a professional has been his inconsistency over his 16 year career and has often followed one good season with a bad one. Fu will not fear Hawkins in any shape or form as he leads 4-3 over the seven times they have met previously, unusually all the meetings have been over the best of nine frames or more and it is Fu who has won the two longest meetings, 9-6 in the 2008 UK championship and two years later in the same tournament, Fu triumphed again, this time 9-7, both at the last 32 stage.
After studying the evidence available there is definite case for backing Fu at 11/8 as he clearly has a great chance of reaching the final, but the reality is that this match is difficult to call a winner on so value must be sought out elsewhere in the available betting markets and after careful inspection two appear to offer more than a modicum of value.
Both players are very heavy scorers and since turning professional in the late 1990’s Hawkins career century breaks stands at 128 to date, while Fu has constructed 257 three figure contributions. This is more than double the tally of Hawkins although he has been professional just 12 months longer which makes the 21/20 (bet £20 to make £21 profit) available with Sportingbet on Fu to make the highest match break look incredibly good value. This season alone Fu has hit 29 centuries in the 43 matches he has played whereas Hawkins has scored 22 “tons” in all of the 38 games he has contested.
The career frame count potentially points towards a close encounter, and once again as it is Fu who just has his nose in front at 37 frames to 36, with this in mind the even money (bet £1 to make £1 profit) with Coral and Sportingbet on the match to be over 9.5 frames in duration is an intriguing investment opportunity.
Either way no quota will be given as both players put 100% effort in every game they play and while they may not be a two of the games leading lights they are both competent snooker players who know their way around the table and playing somewhere near the peak of their abilities can produce snooker of the highest order.