That sound you can hear is millions of mouths watering as the snooker world gets ready for Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump to contest the Coral UK Championship final at the Barbican Centre in York on Sunday.
This is a meeting between two audaciously talented naturals of the game who have also worked very hard to get themselves to the top. They revel in the big match atmosphere, they go for their shots, they entertain and they get the crowd on their side. But only one can win the £150,000 first prize in a 19 frame battle for supremacy.
O’Sullivan had to come from 4-1 behind to beat Stuart Bingham while Trump had to hold himself together to see off Stephen Maguire. At 5-1, he was coasting. He had a golden chance to win 6-3 but under-hit the green and missed a difficult brown. Maguire’s brown to pink clearance for 5-4 piled the pressure on.
But at no point did Trump stop going for his shots, and this was a good sign. It meant he retained confidence in his cueing and his game. He didn’t grow hesitant and resort to going negative. He kept on attacking and eventually got the result.
O’Sullivan, a four times UK champion, has just turned 39 but has not yet entered decline. He loves playing Trump and we saw the feast they served up for us at the Champion of Champions final in Coventry just a month ago, O’Sullivan prevailing 10-7.
He has been an obvious inspiration for Trump, who at 25 is aiming to land a second UK crown. Trump is back playing as positively as he was when he won in 2011 but his game has matured and his tactical play is superb. He’s harder to beat when he’s in this sort of mood.
The final, then, promises to be a classic, as befits a tournament of this stature. This is big boys’ stuff. It’ll be about laying down gauntlets, standing up to pressure and potting those vital balls, making those vital breaks.
There are many professionals capable of winning tournaments, but few play the kind of easy on the eye snooker which O’Sullivan and Trump so often produce.
So let’s hope the final lives up to its billing. It’s been a thrilling tournament full of close contests. And the last match has the potential to be the best of them all.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.