JUDD TRUMP displayed tactical astuteness belying his still young years in completing a great comeback to set up a World Grand Prix final meeting with Ronnie O’Sullivan on Sunday.
Trump, who edged Mark Williams 4-3 on the final black in a breathlessly nervy quarter-final in Llandudno on Friday night, looked a beaten man when he fell 5-1 adrift to Martin Gould in the semi-finals. But employing the sort of hard, clever, match snooker of which players such as Steve Davis, John Higgins and Mark Selby would have been proud, Trump turned it around and won 6-5.
Gould never quite had a clear-cut easy chance in the balls to win, but this was largely down to Trump’s control.
He rose to prominence playing what was dubbed ‘naughty’ snooker – essentially a catchall term for taking on, and getting, outrageously good pots. But it was his considered tactical play which got him through against Gould and is an area of his game where he is now, even at the age of 25, among the very best.
Trump has developed the sort of snooker brain that the great all round players have, learning in the way Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui have in recent years that there is more than one way to win.
What he displayed from 5-1 down to Gould was application and belief. He refused to accept defeat and found a way back into the match.
This has been his attitude all season. It is noticeable he has played in just about everything, applying himself to the circuit and getting the reward in Australia, a stopping off point he had skipped for the last couple of seasons.
Trump is still attacking and has made far more centuries this season than anyone else – 67 in total – but his ability to mix it now makes him even more dangerous, especially at the Crucible where nobody can be expected to play well in every session and where graft is often needed.
His immediate problem is O’Sullivan, who was impressive in sweeping aside Stuart Bingham 6-0 in the other semi-final.
This is the third final between O’Sullivan and Trump this season. In the previous two, at the Champion of Champions and UK Championship, O’Sullivan made a flying start, Trump made a great rally but the Rocket got the win in the end.
O’Sullivan has something very few players have ever had: an intimidation factor. This is because of who he is, what he’s done and what he’s still capable of doing.
Trump is one of the few that can take him on at the attacking side of matchplay but it may be his solid defensive game which makes the difference. If he can keep O’Sullivan out and then take his own chances then it could be third time lucky against the five times world champion.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.