World Championship: Not so naughty but Judd Trump has look of a Crucible champion

When Judd Trump burst onto the Crucible stage in 2011 his brand of ‘naughty snooker’ seemed certain to see him crowned world champion.

His flamboyant shot-making and off-table charisma exuded box-office appeal and had him pegged from an early age as the sport’s future poster boy.

But an 18-15 defeat to John Higgins in that 2011 final was the closest Trump – making his 10th Crucible appearance this year – has come to claiming the Betfred World Championship.

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Since then the former UK Championship winner has twice reached the semi-finals in Sheffield, and today he will look to make a third visit to the one-table set-up, resuming his quarter-final against Stephen Maguire 7-1 ahead in their best-of-25 contest.

Maybe it has been the marathon of 17 days’ competition in Sheffield that has not aligned with Trump’s all-out attack.

But after a season that brought Masters success in January – a Crucible win would complete snooker’s prestigious Triple Crown – a more pragmatic approach is paying dividends for the 29-year-old Bristol potter.

“This season the safety has maybe been the standout thing and has got me chances,” said Trump, who lost in the quarter-finals to Higgins last year.

“My long potting has improved again and with those two attributes I will always create chances.

“Maybe in the past I have not been mature enough to win it.

“But now, judging by the results from the past couple of seasons, then it’s hopefully my time. I am ready now.”

After winning the last six frames to complete a second-round win over Ding Junhui – another who has yet to claim a Crucible title his talent deserves – Trump streaked into a 6-0 lead against Maguire yesterday, with breaks of 131, 67, 106, 78 and 101.

Scotland’s Maguire – who only potted seven balls and scored 24 points in the first five frames – finally halted his opponent’s 12-frame winning run before Trump claimed the final frame to hold a 7-1 lead when they resume this morning.

Four-time champion Higgins dug deep to end his opening session level at 4-4 against 2010 winner Neil Robertson.

Breaks of 58 and 91 helped Robertson into a 3-1 lead, but Higgins displayed his characteristic tenacity to reduce his deficit by winning a 56-minute fifth frame.

Robertson won the next to restore his two-frame advantage, after which the cushions were cleaned following complaints from both players about some inconsistent bounces.

Although one such bounce saw Higgins run out of position on a break of 28, he won the seventh frame and produced his highest break of the match, 73, to claim the eighth as well.

Gary Wilson, a former taxi driver from Wallsend, leads Ali Carter 9-7 in the quarter-final battle of the two qualifiers.

Carter – twice a Crucible finalist, losing to Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2008 and 2012 – took an early 3-0 lead, including a 135 break, only to see Wilson turn the tables to lead 5-3.

David Gilbert takes a 10-6 lead into this afternoon’s final session against the world No 8 Kyren Wilson.

The pair struggled in the opening session, Wilson managing a highest break of just 46 – world No 16 Gilbert finishing with a 109 clearance – to become locked at 4-4.

But Tamworth’s Gilbert, 37, took control last night despite 27-year-old Wilson’s impressive 138 clearance and needs just three more frames to claim a place in the semi-finals when they resume today.