Judd Trump and Marco Fu will contest the final of the Players Championship after each emerged from tight semi-final encounters this weekend in Wales.
On Friday, Trump reached a third ranking event final in succession with a 6-4 triumph over Ali Carter.
Fu then battled back from behind to pip Ding Junhui to the post in the decider last night.
Fu’s success denied a Sunday showdown between two of the sport’s biggest attractions but the Hong Konger demonstrated a steely side to his game that he has built up over the last number of months to maintain his current run of excellent form.
Since the UK Championship in December, the 39 year-old has been an ever-present at the latter stages of tournaments, capturing the Scottish Open title and featuring in three other major semi-finals before Llandudno.
That Trump has an even better record from this arduous campaign highlights the standard that the Englishman has been able to consistently produce.
In October, the 27 year-old came from two frames down to beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-8 in the European Masters final and his run this week represents a fourth appearance in a ranking event final since.
Trump’s primary disappointment, though, is that he has been denied further silverware in the English, Welsh, and Gibraltar Opens to place a question mark over his ability to get the job done when it absolutely matters the most.
The former world number one still boasts six ranking titles, but losses in eight other finals have put a dent in the overall statistical record.
Of course, that Trump has been able to embark on all these streaks at all is testament to both his talent and the level of snooker he has been displaying in general for the majority of the campaign.
Against Fu, the 2011 UK champion will face the challenge of a player who equally possesses a negative ratio in ranking event deciders.
Fu, in search of a fourth glory of this status, looked destined for another last four defeat on Saturday when China’s Ding, who compiled arguably the break of the season in the fourth frame, orchestrated a 5-3 advantage in a tough affair.
However, the 39 year-old clawed his way back to force a decider, which he prevailed in with a gutsy clearance of 98.
There have been occasions over the last couple of years when it had appeared as though Fu might be heading backwards and into the doldrums, but recently he has possibly played the best snooker of his entire career.
Fu holds an inferior head-to-head record against Trump, who has emerged triumphant in a pair of World Championship bouts between one another, but the former did manage an impressive 6-5 victory from 3-0 down in January’s Masters – a match in which the duo scored extremely heavily.
Trump will be desperate to not make it a hat-trick of final letdowns in the last month, so it could be an opportunity for Fu to capitalise on the pressure that may be heaped on the younger competitor’s shoulders.
Yet, Trump will still begin as the favourite and rightly so, as he has the pedigree to steamroller any challenger on any given day.
With £125,000 at stake, one of the largest prizes of the season, both players will surely be giving it everything in search of victory.
Coverage continues on ITV4.
Categories: Snooker News