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Trump seizes the initiative in battle for world joy

 

On cue: Judd Trump has wrested control of the World final
On cue: Judd Trump has wrested control of the World final

By Mark Staniforth

Judd Trump delivered a "controlled annihilation" of John Higgins as he won eight frames in a row to wrest control of their World Championship final at The Crucible.

Six-time champion Steve Davis was moved to make that comment after a dazzling opening day which saw the 29-year-old fire four centuries and take a 12-5 lead in the best-of-35 match heading into tonight's concluding sessions.

Higgins totalled three centuries of his own before he was over-run by his irrepressible opponent in what Davis called "one of the most incredible performances I have seen here in one session".

Trump, a mere novice when he was beaten by Higgins in the 2011 final, not only out-scored the Scot but also got on top of their sporadic safety exchanges to leave the 43-year-old reeling.

And it was all the more remarkable given Trump's struggles earlier in the tournament, having needed a final frame to beat Thepchaiya Un-Nooh then to battle from behind in his second round match with Ding Junhui.

But there had been signs all season that Trump was finally developing into a more consistent top-level performer - and Higgins was not the first to feel the full effect after Ronnie O'Sullivan had been savaged in the Masters final earlier this year.

Trump had shown no nerves on his return to the big occasion for the first time since he was vanquished by Higgins in 2011 - taking the first two frames before the pair traded their first tons.

Higgins' 139 was followed by Trump's 105 and after Higgins had clawed back to 3-3, the duo swapped centuries again as they tied a magnificent opening session at 4-4.

When Higgins hit his third century of the match to go back in front at the beginning of the evening session it seemed the Scot was in the mood to push his fiery opponent all the way.

Instead, it was the spark for Trump to summon one of the finest passages of play in the tournament's history as he turned a narrow disadvantage into a seemingly unassailable overnight lead.

Levelling in the next frame after being somewhat fortunate to escape from missing a routine black, Trump began to deliver almost flawless snooker with a stunning 135 putting him back in front at 6-5. Trump's new-found safety skills were evident in the next frame as he emerged from a lengthy battle to extend his lead, and his fourth century duly followed as he rattled in a 114.

Higgins was clearly flagging after his final frame thriller against David Gilbert on Saturday and he spurned a handful of half-chances in the remaining four frames of the evening.

Trump punished him mercilessly, ending the session with breaks of 71, 58 and 70 to confirm his seven-frame advantage and leave him just six away from claiming his belated first world crown.

Trump's best pot came in the 10th frame when he powered in a red down the cushion and with a swish of the cue, managed to screw the cueball back into the baulk area.

Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry called it "the shot of the championship" adding: "He threw everything at it. He is probably the only player in the game that can produce that sort of shot."

1997 champion Ken Doherty said: "It was like Alex Higgins the way Judd Trump hit that pot.

"His whole body goes into the shot and his head goes into the air.

"It goes against the whole ethos of the coaching manual.

"I could be there for a month of Sundays and never produce a shot like that. He's a great entertainer and a prodigious talent."

The final session will begin at 7pm tonight, with the winner collecting the trophy and a record £500,000 in prize money.

Belfast Telegraph

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