JUDD TRUMP is determined to prevent rival Ding Junhui from making history in a mouth-watering German Masters final on Sunday.
World No4 Trump beat Liverpool’s Rod Lawler 6-1 at the Tempodrom in Berlin on Saturday night to reach his first ranking-event showpiece for 14 months.
And the 24-year-old, who rattled in three century breaks and won six frames in a row, now faces China’s talisman Ding, who is bidding to claim a fourth such title this season.
That has not been done since Stephen Hendry 23 years ago when he won five – the Grand Prix, Asian Open, Dubai Classic, UK Championship and British Open.
Ding, 26, scored a hat-trick of successes back-to-back in the autumn – in Shanghai, Delhi and then Chengdu.
But former world No1 Trump, based in Romford, is desperate to win a fourth career title in front of 2,500 fans after a series of disappointing early exits this season.
And he has now incredibly dropped just four frames in five matches this week in Germany in displays that have brought to mind those produced in his major breakthrough in 2011.
"I played to near the best of my ability – seeing him make a good break to win the first frame told me I had to get into it straight away, Rod is very underrated," said Trump.
“But I have to win the final now, no matter how I play, to make it all count. It is a good final, Ding has won three tournaments and is the man to beat.
“I enjoy playing in front of the big crowds so to put on a show was pleasing and if I can continue playing that way I should win. It has been frustrating this season so far.”
World No50 Lawler, 42, was in his first ranking semi-final for almost 16 years. "I knew I had my hands full against Judd," he said. "But it wasn't as if I made it really easy for him, and I made sure I enjoyed the experience."
Lawler did all he could to stay calm on one of the biggest stages of his life, coming along to watch the walk-ons of Ding and Ryan Day in the afternoon semi-final to sample the atmosphere.
And that looked to have worked in the opening frame, which he won with a run of 61. But Trump, who took no liberties and showed Lawler every respect, responded with breaks of 66, 48, 127, 122, 57, 117 and 46.
Trump showed signs of coming back to form at both the UK Championship and the Masters, when he was arguably the better player in defeats to Mark Allen in York and Marco Fu at Alexandra Palace.
He also made the first maximum 147 break of his career in Antwerp late last year, another boost to Trump’s confidence that had taken a battering since reaching the last four at the Crucible and losing 17-11 to Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Trump and Ding produced one of the best matches seen in recent times at the World Championships three years ago, when the younger man won a thrilling semi-final 17-15.
And over the best of 17 frames in Berlin on Sunday and playing for the £70,000 first prize, all those present and watching on television will be hoping for more of the same.