Judd Trump came from behind to superbly win the Players Championship, beating Marco Fu 10-8 in front of a big crowd in Llandudno.
Trump had lost in his last three ranking event finals, all this season including the last two tournaments he entered, but scored heavily to add to his European Masters success in October.
The 27 year-old began in quick fashion with a smart run of 83 providing him with the first frame but a poor miss at the beginning of the second frame allowed Fu the opportunity to also get an early mark on the scoreboard.
The next couple of frames were shared before Fu seemed to take control of the contest after the mid-session interval with breaks of 83 and 67 establishing a 5-2 advantage.
However, Trump responded excellently with a brace of centuries, including a 136 which stood as the highest break of the week, to draw to within only one frame at the conclusion of the opening session.
The former world number one continued where he left off when the evening’s bout of play commenced, constructing a further century break and runs of 76 and 83 to transform a three-frame deficit into an 8-5 lead.
Hong Kong’s Fu, the Scottish Open champion before Christmas and one of the most consistent competitors on the Main Tour at present, fought gallantly by taking the next two close frames to put the pressure back on Trump.
The latter would have been forgiven for allowing his failures in the English, Welsh, and Gibraltar Open finals creep into his mentality, but a fourth century, this time a 102, brought him to the brink of the title.
Fu again hung on with a run of 58 but Trump replied in the 18th frame with a 53 to avoid a decider and claim the seventh ranking event crown of his career.
The result, and the £125,000 the former UK champion pockets for his efforts, means that Trump will rise up to second in the world rankings ahead of Stuart Bingham – but still a long way behind runaway leader Mark Selby.
Trump, though, is head and shoulders the best player on the circuit at present as he continues to feature at the business end of each event.
With just the China Open before the campaign-concluding World Championship, Trump will be heading to Sheffield full of confidence in an attempt to finally etch his name on the famous Crucible trophy.
The latest betting news at bethut will provide all the information required to decide who to back and Trump is sure to attract plenty of interest as he shoots for a maiden world title.
39 year-old Fu will be disappointed to have lost, ensuring his record in finals remains a negative one, but he simply came up against a better opponent on the day.
Fu failed to qualify for Beijing so he will now focus all his attentions on Sheffield, which gets under way in just over a month.
Of course, with the calendar so long and the number of quality contenders so vast, there’s no guarantee that either Trump or Fu will still be competing to this level by then.
For now, though, Trump will be reveling in what he’ll feel is a long overdue success, the first time in his career that he has managed to obtain ranking silverware twice in the same campaign.