Battle-hardened Judd Trump looking to join snooker’s elite with third Masters crown


Battle-hardened Judd Trump looking to join snooker’s elite with third Masters crown

Judd Trump has won four Triple Crown events during his career
Judd Trump has won four Triple Crown events during his career AFP
Twelve months on from a nerve-shredding 10-8 victory over Mark Williams in the 2023 Masters showpiece, Judd Trump (34) began the defence of his title on Tuesday with an equally gritty opening round win over world number nine Kyren Wilson.

The two-time Masters champion looked in serious trouble at 3-0 down early on in the contest, but rallied impressively to surge 5-3 ahead. A spirited response from Wilson set up a final frame decider, which Trump took with a superb clearance of 65 to seal a thrilling 6-5 victory

The performance itself was largely unconvincing from Trump. However, as he so often does under pressure, the ‘Ace in the Pack’ found a way to battle through and come out on top.

It’s an ominous sign for the rest of the field. Especially when you look back to last year’s tournament, with Trump riding his luck in the first two rounds, scraping to 6-5 wins over both Ryan Day and Barry Hawkins before eventually finding his groove in the semi-finals.

Trump has perfected the ability to win while being nowhere near his best and it’s an invaluable skill to have. 

His consistency from frame to frame and rhythm around the table might not be as formidable as it was back in 2019 when he became world champion, but he can still move up through the gears when needed - whether it’s rock-solid safety play or an explosive ton-plus break. 

Building on momentum 

The world number two enjoyed a stellar end to 2023 winning three consecutive ranking titles at the English, Wuhan and Northern Irish Opens. 

A semi-final defeat to Ding Junhui at the UK Championship in December provided somewhat of a reality check, but despite that painful defeat, Trump remains the standout player on the tour so far this season. 

With only Ronnie O’Sullivan ahead of him in the rankings, the 34-year-old will use his recent upturn in form as a source of motivation as he targets a return to world number one for the first time since November 2021.

Judd Trump celebrating his Masters triumph in January 2023
Judd Trump celebrating his Masters triumph in January 2023AFP

Speaking ahead of the tournament, the Bristolian revealed the Masters is his favourite event on the snooker calendar. “I enjoy the atmosphere, it is completely different to any other tournament”, he explained to the World Snooker Tour.

“It is more like a rowdy football game with a lot more passion. When everyone is clapping and cheering then it relaxes me. I feel like I belong there and at that point, it is my time to shine.”

If Trump is to claim his fourth title of the year at Alexandra Palace on Sunday, he’ll need to use that sense of belonging to his advantage, as he looks to navigate his way through a stacked field including seven-time champion O’Sullivan, world number three Mark Allen and the always consistent Mark Selby

However, with momentum on his side and a growing sense that the fear factor of facing him is slowly returning, Trump looks in good shape to keep hold of the silverware he first won back in 2019. 

History beckons

Trump faces Ali Carter next in the quarter-finals, with the world number 10 having swept aside Wales’ Williams in the opening round.

It’ll be another stern test for Trump, who is aiming to become just the seventh player in the sport’s history to win the Masters on more than two occasions.

The last five head-to-head meetings between Judd Trump and Ali Carter.
The last five head-to-head meetings between Judd Trump and Ali Carter.Flashscore

A third Masters crown would give Trump his fifth Triple Crown trophy, further cementing his legacy as one of snooker’s modern greats.

And with plenty of time on his side, the talented Englishman will feel confident of adding to his tally of 26 ranking titles - the fifth most by any player in history.

Trump will certainly need to improve on Tuesday's performance to make it through to Sunday's final, but as his resilience and mental fortitude over the past year has shown, it'll take something special to beat him.

You can follow Trump's quarter-final match with Flashscore here


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