We are down to the one-table situation in the Tour Championship for the final three matches of the Coral Snooker Series. The first of those is the opening semi-final which is a repeat of the final of The Masters as Judd Trump takes on Ronnie O’Sullivan on Thursday.
The format has been increased slightly, and just like at Alexandra Palace, the pair will meet over the best-of-19 frames for the right to take on either Mark Allen or Neil Robertson in the two-day final at the weekend.
It has been a vintage few months for Judd Trump. He has won the Northern Ireland Open, The Masters and the World Grand Prix and has fully earned his place in this tournament, and will head to Sheffield as a leading candidate to claim the world title. I just sense he has come off the very top of his form though, which is understandable given the standards he reached earlier in the campaign.
Trump has shown a different side to him in recent months. He was a front running, flat track bully for much of his career but he can now mix it in the tactical department, and when he falls behind he can still produce the goods, as he showed in the quarter final against Mark Williams where he can from 8-5 down to win in a tense deciding frame.
There was a stage in this campaign where I thought Ronnie O’Sullivan was going through the motions. He lost in the opening round of the World Grand Prix and then played some weird snooker in the Welsh Open, but if there was an issue with him, the penny dropped ahead of the Players Championship. He won that and then walloped Stuart Bingham in the quarter final here and looks like a man set to replace Mark Selby at the top of the world rankings.
O’Sullivan has mentioned a lot over the course of the season about having to pace himself and make sure he peaks at the right time and based on the evidence of Preston and the first round here, his standard is going up and up and you sense he is going to be hard to beat. I was slightly concerned that he wouldn’t relish the two session matches but his performances against Neil Robertson in the final in Preston and Bingham here suggests I’m worrying about nothing.
These two have now met on 24 occasions and it is perfectly square between the pair at 12 wins each. Trump has won both their meetings this season, which have both come in finals over two-sessions so they could be significant. He won 9-7 in the Northern Ireland final and then 10-4 in The Masters. O’Sullivan still leads the frames between the two at 131-123 which suggests when he wins the victories are a little more comfortable. O’Sullivan has won all four semi-finals between these two in their careers.
I must admit I do fear a little bit for Judd Trump here because I think beating him twice he will have brought out the best of Ronnie O’Sullivan here. You can bet your bottom dollar that O’Sullivan will be smarting from those two losses, especially the one in front of his own people in London, and he’ll be out for a bit of revenge here.
I think the levels of the two men are just going in opposite directions at the minute. Trump is just slightly down on that level he showed at Ally Pally whereas O’Sullivan is getting to top form so I think the veteran is getting the protégé at a good time here. Trump has come from the clouds to win matches recently but if he goes behind to O’Sullivan I suspect the Rocket will ensure there is no way back and power clear.
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