TRUMP GETTING CLOSER DESPITE RESULTS
JUDD TRUMP’s exit at the hands of Marco Fu at the Dafabet Masters marked another early departure this season for the former world No1 on one of the game’s big stages.
It has been a frustrating seven months for Trump, increased by defeats to Fu at Alexandra Palace and Mark Allen in December’s UK Championship when in both last-16 matches the world No4 was almost certainly the stronger player, but let down by errors at key moments.
When Trump made his major breakthrough on the big stage in 2011, winning the China Open as a qualifier and then surfing that tide all the way to the World Championship final a few short weeks later, he was undeniably a breath of fresh air in the sport.
The dash of showmanship, no-holds-barred attacking style and raw cue power swiftly drew him an army of admirers that extended beyond the usual snooker audience. Speaking from personal experience, sports editors thought Trump had ‘it’, whatever ‘it’ is, a status they are notoriously unwilling to confer on many others bar Ronnie O’Sullivan.
The curve remained strongly upward with success at the UK Championship, and when Trump got the final of the 2012 International Championship in Chengdu, an event he went on to win, he became world No1 for the first time.
Despite reaching the semi-finals at the Crucible last year, where he lost 17-11 to O’Sullivan, Trump’s results in 2013 left plenty to be desired. This season he skipped the Australian Open, lost in the first round of the Shanghai Masters and Indian Open, and the last 64 of the Wuxi Classic and International Championship.
There have been accusations of chasing the sponsorship dollar at the expense of focus and practice, and complaints from Chinese media about access, availability and treatment of fans at the many tournaments staged in the country.
There may arguably have been a moment, after fame came quickly, that Trump eased off from the hard work that got him there but if that was the case then no longer. He is unquestionably now putting in the graft, it remains the results that are eluding him.
Some see Trump driving a Ferrari and other supercars and question his priorities. There is absolutely no reason why a successful young sportsman should not enjoy the benefits of his labours. But sometimes there is a question of wider perception, and you really need to be winning on the table to carry it off.
The 24-year-old made two interesting comments after the 6-5 loss to Fu. One was that he had only missed “only a couple of easy balls”. The other was that the higher number of misses is all tied up with falling confidence levels, and that when he was flying all the pots flew in.
Of the two statements, the second one appears closer to the truth, because Trump missed several key balls at big moments against Fu, as any video review of the match would confirm. His confidence has certainly been hit in the past six months, but you get the impression it could swiftly return. A first career 147 made recently in Antwerp will have helped there.
The sequence of defeats cannot all be put down to a bit of luck here and a touch of run there, however especially after the losses to Allen at the UK and Fu at Alexandra Palace, both matches Trump should have won, there looks to be very little wrong with his game that a few big wins in major events, and a decent run, would not put right. Shot selection under severe pressure may be one of the few areas where Trump can genuinely improve further.
So is Trump at some sort of early career crossroads, or is this dodgy spell sure to pass? Trump has already qualified for the German Masters and World Open events, and therefore has the tournaments in which to turn things around in the near future.
He knocked in two centuries and a break of 87 against Fu alone in that defeat, the game looks to be coming back and it would be a huge surprise if he does not come out fighting and challenging once more very soon.