Weekend Interview: How Judd Trump plans to reclaim his No1 spot at Sheffield’s Crucible

Judd Trump.
Judd Trump.
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JUDD TRUMP believes the time has come to finally join snooker’s elite and be crowned world champion.

The 27-year-old looked destined to be a snooker superstar when he burst on to the scene in 2011.

Then 21, Trump beat Mark Selby 10-8 in the China Open final – his first ranking tournament success – before blazing through the World Championship with some scintillating, exciting snooker.

His long-range shots, and explosive potting, took him all the way to the Crucible final only to come up against the granite-like John Higgins in the final.

Selby lost 18-15 but most pundits believed they had witnessed the birth of snooker’s next star. A player in the mould of Ronnie O’Sullivan and the late, great Paul Hunter, a sporting icon who could make news on both the front and back pages of national newspapers.

Six months later, Trump confirmed that talent with victory at York in the UK Championship and within a year had risen to world No 1.

But the Bristolian – who has made headlines for his fashion sense, bold haircuts and expensive shoes – has some gaping holes in his trophy cabinet.

Despite a regular tournament winner, he has only won one of snooker’s triple crown – the 2011 UK Championship – and is still waiting to taste success at either the Masters or World Championship.

Trump – who famously coined the phrase “sexy snooker” to describe his swashbuckling style at the table – cues off in Sheffield next week looking to end his wait for Crucible glory.

“It is always good to leave your legacy,” said Trump, who has made two semi-finals and a quarter-final appearance in the last five seasons in Sheffield.

Mark Selby celebrates with the trophy after beating Ding Junhui in last year's World Championships final. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA

Mark Selby celebrates with the trophy after beating Ding Junhui in last year's World Championships final. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA

“There’s a few of the other players that I think I’m a lot better than and they have won the triple crown, so I think I need to be winning these big events.”

He certainly arrives in Sheffield in fine form, admitting this has been his best season since turning professional in 2005.

He has won two ranking titles this season – the European Masters and Players’ Championship – the latter ending a losing run in finals which saw Trump fall at the last hurdle in the English Open, the Welsh Open and the Gibraltar Open.

“It’s been easily my best season to date,” said the world No 2. “You’ve got to take a lot of confidence from that.

It’s been easily my best season to date. You’ve got to take a lot of confidence from that.

Judd Trump.

“The standard is very high, so, any time you can win more than one tournament in a season, you’re doing well. The consistency has come as well.

“Maybe it is just because I am working a little bit harder.”

That graft at the Grove Academy in Romford, Essex, definitely seems to be paying off for a player who is an avid follower of social media.

It is not uncommon for Trump to use Twitter during games to vent his frustration or delight at what is unfolding on the table.

“I’ve just been doing more practice and putting in a lot more concentration,” he admitted.

“I’ve taken less breaks and have just been going on the practice table and staying there until I am done, rather than going away and playing on my phone.”

After losing in the finals of the English Open, Welsh Open and Gibraltar Open, Trump must have feared the worst when he trailed Marco Fu 5-2 in the Players’ Championship.

But the former English youth champion reeled off six frames in a row to eventually triumph 10-8 and claim the seventh ranking title of his career.

“I think it was nice to get it out of the way,” said Trump, describing the relief at ending his losing streak in finals. “It puts a bit of doubt in your mind. It was nice to put that to one side before the World Championship. I’ll be going into that full of confidence if I can reach the final.”

Unlike every other tournament, the World Championship is unique in the demands it places on players.

From the first round, competitors face a minimum of best-of-19 frames matches, and the tournament is played out over a marathon 17 days.

It is not only physically demanding, but a test of mental strength and durability, and Trump admits it can be draining for players.

He said: “There’s so much excitement around the World Championship, it’s a buzz but it can drain you being a part of it.

“If you are playing morning then night, you need to sleep in the daytime.

“It takes it out of you playing one best-of-19 match in a final so you can imagine what playing five of those does.”

World No 1 Selby – the defending Crucible champion – is the man Trump needs to beat.

Having had a brief taste of being top of the world rankings, ‘The Juddernaut’ is keen to take both the world title and No 1 spot from Selby’s grasp.

“Mark Selby has been there for so long, it is the aim to knock him off the top spot,” said Trump.

“If I win the World Championship, I might be able to move first in the rankings, but, if not, maybe at the start or middle of next season there is a chance.

“It would be nice to become No 1 and keep it for a bit longer this time.

“I’d like to try and do what he has done, to hold as many big titles as possible and get to the top of the game.”