Judd Trump claimed his first ranking title in over a year with a stunning 9-7 defeat of Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final of the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.
The momentous victory for Trump is his fourth win in a final over five-time Crucible king O’Sullivan and reduces his head-to-head deficit with the Rocket to 10-9.
This is the ninth ranking title of 29-year-old Trump’s career and ends a trophy drought which extends back to the 2017 European Masters. He is now level with Peter Ebdon and John Parrott in 10th position on the all-time ranking event winner’s list and has moved just one behind Jimmy White’s total of 10 titles.
Defeat for O’Sullivan prevents him from taking home silverware in back-to-back weeks after winning the Champion of Champions in Coventry last Sunday. He remains on 33 career ranking titles, three behind Stephen Hendry’s record of 36. The Rocket will now turn his attentions to York, where he will seek to defend the UK Championship title he won 12 months ago.
The players were inseparable during a tightly contested afternoon session, where they shared the frames to emerge level at 4-4.
To that point there was never more than a frame between the pair and that pattern continued this evening as they went blow for blow. They reached the mid-session at 6-6 and when they returned it was O’Sullivan who sparked the match into life with a stunning clearance of 134 to move 7-6 ahead.
The Rocket appeared to have the momentum. However, that break jolted world number five Trump into gear and he made a surge for the finishing line. After winning back-to-back frames he powered home thanks to a break of 79 to secure the Alex Higgins Trophy and the £70,000 top prize with a superb 9-7 victory.
“It was tough all day,” said 2011 UK Champion Trump. “I was prepared for facing Ronnie. Against anyone else I would probably have been 6-2 up after the first session. Nobody else clears up after you miss like he does. Tonight it was a little bit different and I was making the clearances after his mistakes.
“This is a massive win. It has been a long time since I have won an event. It is nice to get one at the start of the season, which is still quite fresh for me. There is a long way to go and this gives me confidence to carry into some big tournaments coming up.
“A few people have written me off. It was nice to play the sort of snooker I have in the past. Going for my shots, potting everything and clearing up. It is nice to play with a bit of freedom again.”
Despite the loss world number three O’Sullivan was philosophical about his performance this week and in an upbeat mood when conducting his post-match media duties.
O’Sullivan said: “I’m over the moon to be honest. I would have been even if I had lost yesterday. I had a good week, I kept it as competitive as I could and I am enjoying my snooker. I won five ranking titles last season, but I wasn’t enjoying it. I will take what I am doing now all day long rather than last season.”