Judd Trump has promised not to ditch his swashbuckling style despite being crowned snooker’s world No 1.
The 23-year-old has roared up the rankings list in a fairytale 18 months, coming from relative obscurity to being ranked the world’s top player.
Ranking tournament victories at the China Open, williamhill.com UK Championship and this month’s International Championship have been based on Trump’s long-range potting and flamboyant style on the baize.
The Twitter-mad potter has attracted a new generation of fans to the sport, and his victory in Chengdu, China, capped off a meteoric rise to the top.
After joining an elite list of 10 players who have held the world No 1 status, Trump is determined to keep entertaining fans with some “crazy” shots.
“Entertaining the crowd? That’s the reason I am here really, I get my best buzz when I am playing my best snooker, entertaining the crowd and taking on a few crazy shots,” said the Bristol cueman.
“I think I am maturing now as I get a little bit older. I have changed my game a bit, play a little more safety than I used to, and I am starting to get the results from that.
“If I keep playing like this, keep winning, then there is no reason to keep taking on the balls and shots all the time. But it’s obviously great to hit the odd long shot and it’s good for the crowd.”
Trump took over the No 1 ranking from Mark Selby by beating Neil Robertson in the International Championship.
He admitted he was surprised to discover so few players had held top spot since the rankings were introduced nearly 40 years ago.
“It was a surprise, there weren’t as many players as I thought who had been world No 1,” said Trump, who will defend his UK Championship title at the York Barbican tomorrow with a first-round match against Mark Joyce. “I am just the 10th player to achieve that status, so it’s a really good feeling to know that over the last 40 years or so, there have only been 10 people who have got to the top.
“Over the last 10 years, three players, John Higgins, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Williams, have dominated the sport.
“My career has literally taken off over the last 18 months. I am still relatively new to the game, I still haven’t been on TV that many times. On the BBC, I know there isn’t really as many tournaments as there used to be, so when there is – the Masters, UK and Worlds – you really have to take your chance.
“I get recognised a lot, especially in Bristol and China. I probably get recognised a couple of times a day normally.”
Trump shot to prominence by winning the China Open in 2011, and then ripped through the Crucible field only to be denied by Higgins in the World Championship final.
He bounced back by winning the UK Championship title in York and has already shown his form this season by reaching the final of the Shanghai Masters and winning the International Championship in China.
“Twelve months ago at York was the first really big tournament I had won, especially being on the BBC,” said Trump. “It was nice after losing the World Championship final to come back on the next BBC event and do so well.
“It showed I had gone away and worked at my game and had come back stronger.
“It would be nice to go back and do the same but I know it’s going to be tough, if not tougher, this year.”
Trump stayed in York for the duration of the event – “just a two-minute walk from the Barbican” – and plans to do the same again this week.
“The last couple of tournaments in China, I have been very consistent, got to the final in one and won the other,” he said. “So, it doesn’t really get much better than that.
“I really feel like I have improved over the last year and feel that going into every tournament I have a good chance of winning it.
“When you get that first win on the board, you know what it’s all about. You have been there, done it, and it’s the not same pressure.
“I feel at home playing in front of the cameras and the big crowds now, and feel that’s when I play my best game.”
Victory in Chengdu saw Trump pick up a lucrative £125,000 winner’s cheque. He hopes it is a sign of things to come in the sport.
“It would be nice if snooker could get the prize money back to where it used to be in the early 2000s, a lot of prize money back then,” he said. “Snooker has dropped down, while other sports have come through with sponsorship. I think it is on the way back now, though, with four or five tournaments of £100,000-plus for the winner, so it’s a good opportunity for players.”
Asked if he had plans for any lavish gifts on which to spend his China winnings, Trump replied: “Not really, not at the moment.
“Maybe if I win the UK, though, I might think of something.
“I managed to get away a few times over the summer. I went to Las Vegas for the first time, which was an amazing experience, a great holiday. Vegas is a crazy place. Then I managed to have another couple of holidays to Dubai and Spain so I managed to get away, chill out and take a nice break from snooker.”
Tickets for the williamhill.com UK Championship are on sale – for details call 0844 854 2757 or visit www.worldsnooker.com/tickets.
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