Judd Trump beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in an enthralling Northern Ireland Open final to hold onto the Alex Higgins Trophy in Belfast on Sunday.
In a repeat of the 2018 showdown for glory, Trump overcame O’Sullivan by the same 9-7 scoreline in another encounter of the highest quality.
Last week, Trump missed out on a maiden triumph in the Champion of Champions when he was denied in a dramatic clash that went the distance by Neil Robertson.
However, the 30 year-old was never behind in this Waterfront Hall title decider and managed to fend off everything that his esteemed opponent threw at him.
Trump has already emerged victorious from three ranking events this season, ensuring that he has become the most successful world champion in the campaign following his first-time success in Sheffield since Stephen Hendry almost 30 years ago.
There can be no denying the fact that Trump is the best player in the world at present and his form is so strong that he’s on the cusp of completely dominating the sport.
In an era where there are more tournaments to participate in and a greater standard right down the world rankings list, it has become more difficult to stand consistently at the top.
However, since lifting the Alex Higgins Trophy last November, Trump has won a staggering six titles including the World Championship and the Masters.
The Englishman is the undisputed world number one having displaced his rival O’Sullivan at the summit en route to his International Championship victory earlier this term.
O’Sullivan played his part in a wonderful clash but the 43 year-old has now lost three finals in a row against Trump, signalling a potential changing of the guard.
The pair traded six century breaks as the crowd were treated to another classic – all four Northern Ireland Open finals have required at least 16 of the allotted 17 frames.
— Barry Hearn (@BarryHearn) November 17, 2019
Trump established an early 2-0 lead, which stood him in good stead for the remainder of the affair.
O’Sullivan five times drew to within just one frame but crucially couldn’t restore parity when a final push was in order.
Returning for the evening session with a 5-3 advantage, Trump extended his cushion to 7-4, compiling his second and third tons along the way.
The latter contribution, a terrific 113, saw Trump robbed of an opportunity to make a maximum break as he missed the 15th black to the disappointment of all in attendance.
That standard continued for the remainder of the fixture, though, with breaks of 72 and 76 helping O’Sullivan to reduce the arrears to one again.
Each player had an opportunity to score another century break before Trump’s 84 in the last frame sealed a famous win.
For O’Sullivan, the five-time world champion’s wait for a record 37th ranking crown goes on a little longer.
The world number two will defend the upcoming UK Championship and it’s surely only a matter of time before he exceeds Stephen Hendry’s milestone.
Trump, meanwhile, has now won 14 ranking titles, putting him eighth on the all-time list ahead of Ding Junhui.
Who knows how many the Bristol potter can tally by his career’s end but he’s currently rattling up the titles at a relentless pace.
Trump’s next goal will be to reclaim the UK trophy in York and on current form it would be hard to back against him.
“I saved my best for the final”@judd147t made four centuries on his way to a 9-7 final victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan in Belfast tonight.
— World Snooker (@WorldSnooker) November 17, 2019