Snooker News

Ones to Watch: Judd Trump

It wouldn’t really make sense having this series without the inclusion of a certain Judd Trump, would it?

The 21 year-old youngster from Bristol set the snooker scene alight at the tail end of last season with an outstanding flourish that brought him his maiden ranking event triumph.

Quickly following his China Open success was a run to the final of the World Championship in Sheffield that had Barry Hearn licking his lips at the prospects for the sport after a quite often mesmerising campaign.

Hearn had taken the game by the scruff of the neck, altered formats, initiating fresh events and injecting money and interest into the circuit – all in the space of twelve hectic months.

From the offset, he handed the challenge of flag-bearer to Ronnie O’Sullivan but ‘The Rocket’ went AWOL too often in a season to forget for the enigmatic former world number one.

While stalwarts John Higgins and Mark Williams were still spearheading the pinnacle of optimum performances, it was evident that Hearn was desperate for somebody exciting to come on the scene to aid his lucrative marketing vision for the future.

For a long time Trump has had the potential to be that very man but he struggled somewhat in his first few years on the Tour to discover the form that many believed was eventually inevitable.

Despite turning professional six years ago and enjoying a steady rise up the rankings, the then teenager had little to show for his efforts with qualification for the Premier League by claiming the 2009 Championship League the height of his early success.

Yet, after joining Grove Snooker Academy in Romford – home to many of snooker’s greatest stars – a new-found sense of independence away from the South West of England gave Trump more positive results.

In a run that saw him annihilate former world champions Peter Ebdon and Shaun Murphy, Trump withheld the always gritty challenge of Mark Selby to claim his first major trophy in front of a capacity crowd in Beijing last April.

Less than two weeks later, ‘The Ace’ was entering the Crucible Theatre for only the second occasion but continued his improved displays with a 10-8 victory over defending champion Neil Robertson.

Martin Gould and Graeme Dott were his next victims as he powered in one high break after another with a succession of ridiculous pots along the way – reminiscent of Alex Higgins and Jimmy White in their heyday.

In the semi-final, he proved he had learned the traits of composure and temperament from his triumph in Asia as he ousted Ding Junhui in one of the greatest last four clashes the home of snooker has ever seen.

The final proved too much for his young shoulders to handle but he still gave an excellent account of himself against the formidable John Higgins, pushing the Scot very near to the brink in an 18-15 defeat.

By the looks of his Twitter updates and other reports circling around, Trump has been enjoying his fame over the last number of weeks.

Who can blame him? But it will be interesting to see how he can cope with both the added pressure of being one of the main men to beat in every tournament and the razzmatazz lifestyle that can accompany a top-class snooker player.

Late nights, gambling, booze and other temptations perhaps got in the way of Alex Higgins and Jimmy White enjoying greater success than they had, while others have succumbed over the years also.

Many will have him as favourite to claim the World Championship next season but that may be asking too much immediately after the heroics that have just gone by.

A consistent year with appearances in the business end of events is what is needed as well as maybe one victory in a major tournament to maintain the upward curve in his career.

That said, to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Higgins, White and O’Sullivan is testament to the ability and entertainment that Trump is both able and willing to provide, which offers the fans – and Hearn –  a mouth-watering prospect for the year to come.

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