JUDD Trump turned on the style against Joe Perry in a high-class match to reach the semi-finals of the Wyldecrest Parks PTC Grand Finals on Friday.
The 24-year-old tournament favourite rattled in breaks of 89, 86 and 71 to leave Perry demoralised after producing runs of 133, 121 and 56 himself at the Guild Hall in Preston.
World No6 Trump, like Shaun Murphy and John Higgins, has looked a different player since the turn of the year having been distinctly out of sorts in the early part of the campaign.
And the left-hander is keen to add a fourth ranking title to his CV as he seeks to arrive at the World Championships in three weeks’ time in good nick.
The tie against in-form Perry, a player who has beaten him recently and is still chasing a first ranking title, always looked a potential banana skin for Trump and he was delighted to come through.
Trump said: “It was a good standard, he had a couple of centuries and I should have had a couple too. My safety was good at the end though, and I got the clearance.
“He might feel aggrieved at having made those breaks and losing, but that has happened to me a lot too this season. Some days you play well and lose, but that is part of the game now.
“Being tournament favourite isn’t a bad place to be, a lot of the top players have gone out but there are still good ones left in.”
Meanwhile Mark Allen was left feeling a bit green around the gills after suffering a shock exit at the hands of a fellow countryman.
The two-time World Open champion lost 4-2 in an all Northern Ireland clash to Gerard Greene.
And the Kent-based world No66 clinched victory against Allen, 28, with an ambitious double up and down the table on the green ball.
That saw Greene, 40, into only the second major semi-final of a 21-year professional career, seven years after reaching the last four of the Grand Prix.
The pair teamed up as a pair for their country at the last World Cup, losing to China in the final – but both struggled yesterday.
World No15 Allen said: “I didn’t get anything going, and didn’t deserve to win although he wasn’t much better. It was a bad day at the office, so that is disappointing.
“But I played okay in my first two matches and overall feel in good shape for the rest of the season.
“It was hard to lose to that green although he said it wasn’t a fluke and that he half-went for it.
“He hit it very hard, but that ball is not why I lost the match.
“Gerard is based in England, but he still counts as a Northern Irishman and we played in the World Cup together.
Greene, who lost to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final of the Paul Hunter Classic this season, said: “I played the green as a shot to nothing, a long double up and down the table. I didn’t think it would go past the brown but it went straight in. It was lovely to see it go.
“I have been playing like a wally for the last few years. But confidence does wonders, and that only comes from winning games.
“The £20,000 I have won is lovely, but £100,000 sounds nice if I could win this. And I can just about remember my first semi-final back in 2007.
“I like Mark, he is a lovely kid and a very attacking player. My mum and dad are both from Belfast and I love it over there even though I live in Kent. I wish there were more events there.”
Photographs by Monique Limbos