Tournament favourite Judd Trump hopes he is gradually moving towards the top of his game as he made four centuries in a 13-8 defeat of David Gilbert to reach the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship.
The world number one has not been at his magnificent best at the Crucible so far, but has had more than enough firepower to see off the challenges of Liam Highfeld and Gilbert. Trump may face a tougher assignment in the next round against Shaun Murphy – if the 2005 champion can convert a 10-6 lead over Yan Bingtao into victory on Monday night.
Trump is through to the quarter-finals at the Crucible for the fourth time in a row, and eighth in total
Bristol’s Trump has been snooker’s dominant force over the past 30 months, winning 14 ranking titles in that period, while no other player has landed more than six. He captured his first Crucible crown in 2019 and now hopes to double his tally.
The key part of Trump’s match with Gilbert was the second half of the first session and the whole of the second, as he came from 3-1 down to lead 11-5, making top breaks of 114, 105 and 111.
World number 15 Gilbert took the first frame of the concluding session with a break of 68 to close the gap. In frame 18, Trump made 45 before running out of position, and his opponent made an excellent 79 clearance to raise his hopes of a fight back.
Trump regained the momentum with a run of 107 to go 12-7 ahead. He might have sealed the result in the 20th but missed the penultimate red to a centre pocket when trailing 49-12. But Trump clinched victory in the next frame by getting the better of a safety battle on the colours, potting yellow, green and brown to get over the line.
In the 1990s, Stephen Hendry was renowned for gathering steam over the early rounds, and Trump hopes he is on a similar trajectory. “It’s a long tournament, we are not even half way through and it’s very difficult to play well for 17 days,” said the 31-year-old. “Hopefully I am saving my best for the coming week. Now is the time to find my form and feel comfortable out there.
“I don’t feel as if I played well against David, but my scoring is there and I can’t be too critical of myself. My brother told me I am playing solid snooker. I will take any win against David because it was a tough second round draw. There are so many players looking good and a lot of the quarter-finals matches will be 50/50 games.”
Trump admits that if he faces Murphy next, he’ll be up against a dangerous opponent. “Shaun hasn’t had a great season but he is due a run, and he loves the limelight and being centre of attention here,” he added. “He still plays like a kid, and when the balls are going in it is intimidating to play against. You can’t feel comfortable against him because nothing is safe.”
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