Bucharest, Belgium, and, maybe, Barnsley: Judd Trump is the man in form ahead of next week’s English Open.
The talented 28-year-old successfully defended his 888sport European Masters on Sunday night with a 9-7 victory over Stuart Bingham in the Belgian city of Lommel.
Twelve months after lifting the trophy in Bucharest, the change in venue did not cause Trump any difficulties as he retained a ranking title for the first time in his career.
And he will head to the Barnsley Metrodome next week for the launch of the English Open in confident mood after an impressive display against former world champion Bingham.
Trump, who won £75,000 for his success, said: “It’s a very good achievement for me.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever defended a title so I’m very happy. Overall (yesterday) Stuart probably played a little bit better (than me). I just got the luck at the right times. He scored a lot heavier than I did.
“Any time you can win a ranking event you’re over the moon so I’m absolutely delighted to win again.”
And Trump has now set his sights on further glory at next week’s English Open.
He said: “It would be nice to win two tournaments in a row, that is another aim of mine. I want to do as well as possible in every tournament and try to win as many big events as I can.
“I think it took me a few games to get used to being back out there, as I haven’t played much season. I wasn’t quite match sharp the first few games and I grew into the tournament. I played very well in the semi-final and that set me up for today. Stuart played great and maybe even better than me. I managed to stick in there and get to the interval at 4-4.
“Winning this tournament last year gave me a good incentive to defend the title. Now I have got that off my back I can set myself new targets for the rest of the season.”
Bingham made three centuries and held a 5-4 lead early in the evening session, but Trump reeled off three frames in a row to lead 7-5, and then resisted the Bingham charge when the 2015 Crucible champion came back to draw level.
A break of 66 nudged Trump one frame away from victory, and the 28-year-old finished with a 107, his second century of the contest.
The pair could not be split after the opening session, Bingham and Trump tied at 4-4.
In four tight opening frames, the 2015 world champion twice edged in front, but on both occasions Trump restored parity.
Back-to-back centuries saw Bingham pull away to go 4-2 up, but he could not shake off Trump – the 2011 UK champion – who scrapped his way back to make it 4-4 going into the evening’s final session.
Trump opens up in Barnsley next Monday afternoon, with the 128-man draw to be held this week.
Five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan – who remains the game’s box-office draw – cues off in the first round on Monday evening in South Yorkshire, alongside 2005 Crucible champion Shaun Murphy.
World champion Mark Selby is in action next Tuesday morning, when Sheffield-based Ding Junhui opens up at Barnsley, with John Higgins and Neil Robertson starring later that evening.
One player who will not have to travel too far to Barnsley next week is Doncaster professional Chris Keogan.
The 25-year-old is only in his second year as a professional and admits the first season was a “real learning curve”.
In a difficult first season on tour, he only won four matches throughout the campaign.
Having the support of Club Doncaster – which also incorporates football club Doncaster Rovers and Doncaster’s rugby league team – has helped Keogan make the transition to the full-time circuit.
He said: “I’m very proud to be part of Club Doncaster, representing my hometown as I compete in tournaments. They are more than just a logo on my shirt, though, with support and guidance between events.
“My first year on the tour was a real learning curve, but now I feel settled and am already feeling like I am competing better.”
Keogan – a guest of Rovers on Saturday in their 4-1 win over Southend United in League One – joined the Club Doncaster stable after he turned professional in 2016. Their mission statement is to “improve the lives of people in Doncaster and the surrounding areas through leadership in sport, education and professional entertainment”.
Gavin Baldwin, chief executive of Club Doncaster, added: “I’ve enjoyed following Chris’s progress over his first year on the tour, and I am sure he will go from strength to strength.
“Our growing partnership with Chris shows our commitment to sport in the area, and everyone at the organisation wishes Chris all the best for the rest of the season – starting with the English Open next time out.”
Tickets for the English Open are available via www.worldsnooker.com/tickets