JUDD TRUMP is hoping to take advantage of a period of change among some of snooker’s established order, and also that a new tip and a New Year can spark a change in his personal playing fortunes.
The 24-year-old Trump may still be ranked at No4 in the world but the left-hander has suffered a series of disappointing early exits this season – and was left devastated after losing a recent williamhill.com UK Championship last-16 tie against a below-par Mark Allen.
But though Neil Robertson, Mark Selby and Ding Junhui are forging ahead at the top of the rankings Trump considers some of the more traditional threats are at a crossroads. John Higgins has performed poorly in recent ranking events, while Mark Willliams is missing only his second Dafabet Masters in 18 years.
Even reigning and five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan is picking and choosing his tournaments and not always in the field especially for the overseas ranking events, and Trump wants to begin his own renaissance early in 2014 with victory over Marco Fu at Alexandra Palace.
“I am trying to get back on the winning trail, and had done a lot of hard work to make sure that happened,” Trump told Inside Snooker.
“So losing in the way I did to Mark Allen at the UK in December was very disappointing, a bit of a kick in the teeth. I was the much better player and the luck wasn’t with me.
“But I need to forget about the season so far and just use the New Year as a new beginning. Maybe the new tip I will have on for the Masters will be part of that, and my luck changes.
“I haven’t had a great first half of the season at all, but after a break it almost feels like we are starting again, so I am looking forward to it. No one scares anyone any more, everyone fancies their chances on their day against any opponent.
“There is some change occurring. John Higgins has dropped away, everyone is expecting him to come back and do well but he hasn’t done it for a while so maybe he has had his time. And Ronnie O’Sullivan’s interest is in and out.
“Putting disappointments like I have had behind you is so important in this or any sport. Neil Robertson is pretty good at that, but even he had a rough time after I beat him at the World Championship and didn’t do much.
“It is strange the way it goes, rarely do you see people have a good tournament then a bad one – it goes in streaks and patches.
“Ding obviously has won the three in a row this season already, but even he didn’t play his best through that. He had a little bit of luck along the way.”
Trump did also pay an interesting and slightly back-handed compliment to world No2 Selby, the defending Masters champion – judging him to be the strongest player mentally in a sport that is notorious for its demands on the psyche.
He added: “Mark Selby is doing the best at the moment. Considering he doesn’t actually play to a great standard to get to so many finals and semis is very impressive.
“For me he has the best head in snooker. He misses a lot of easy balls but can still come back and clear up the table the next shot.
“When that happens to me or Ronnie quite often we’re gone for that frame because we are so disgusted with ourselves.
“Mark just forgets it. He’s a good player but probably not in the top five in the world. But with his head, it makes him world No1 or No2. He is doing very well.
“I don’t think I will ever be like that though, I don’t think you can learn it. Players like me and Ronnie and Jimmy White have to make up for it in other ways.
“Our plus side is that we can rattle off frames very quickly and do damage in that way. When someone is doing that against you, it is hard to deal with.”
Trump reckons he is refreshed for the battles ahead after leaving his Essex base and returning home to spend time with family and friends over the Christmas period – but also got to indulge his passion for supercars once more with a visit to McLaren HQ in Woking.
He said: “It was good to have a break over Christmas and get back to Bristol to see everyone, but then I was back to my professional base and have been practising since.
“It is hard splitting time between those two places but it is definitely the best thing for me and I want a good, strong finish to the season.
“I went to the McLaren HQ at Woking ande that was fun – they gave me one of their road cars, the MP4, to drive for a couple of days. I just took it up to London shopping.”
Photographs by Monique Limbos.