Marco Fu expressed his gratitude after being award a fresh invitational card to compete on the World Snooker Tour for two more seasons.
Following a difficult few years due to a combination of eye problems and the COVID-19 pandemic, the three-time ranking event winner finished last season in 109th place and was set to drop off the tour at the conclusion of his initial two-year invitational card.
However, the 45-year-old has been given a reprieve after seeing his professional status extended for a further two seasons, meaning he will not have to regain his place via Q School.
Having climbed to a career high fifth in the rankings after winning the 2016 Scottish Open, Fu was enjoying arguably the strongest spell of his professional career when he was forced to undergo laser surgery in December 2017 to treat retinal degeneration and floaters in his dominant left eye.
A further setback was to follow in February 2020 when he returned to Hong Kong following the outbreak of COVID-19.
Although receiving an invitational card after finishing the 2020-21 season outside the top 64, it would be over two years before Fu competed again on the World Snooker Tour – reaching the Hong Kong Masters final in his first full campaign back last term.
The two-time Crucible semi-finalist, who turned professional in 1998, admits the events of the last few years have been tough, but he is excited to be starting afresh with a clean slate.
“I am very grateful to be offered this opportunity by World Snooker Tour,” he told WST.
“I’ve spent 25 years on the circuit, but the last few have been really challenging. To be given this chance to continue and represent Hong Kong and China for another two years makes me extremely proud.
“I will be working as hard as ever to prove I am a player who can still perform and represent our sport at the highest level. I am very happy and excited.
“I had my eye surgery in 2018 and then COVID, which as an overseas player was really challenging. If I stayed in the UK, I would have been away from my family for a year. It was a time everybody wants to forget.”
“I think with my eye problem and COVID, my standard has definitely dropped from five years ago.
“The love of the game is still there. I still look forward to practising every day. I love taking my cue into a snooker club. As long as I feel that, I will keep on playing.
“Hopefully, I will get back to the standard where I can compete as I did five years ago. That is the standard I want to achieve. I will do my very best.”