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Trump Fightback Floors Higgins

Judd Trump prevailed in yet another classic contest with John Higgins, rallying from 4-2 down to win 6-5 and clinch his place in the final of the BetVictor European Masters in Nuremberg.

The clash was the latest in a storied rivalry between the pair, which has included two World Championship finals in 2011 and 2019. Victory for 23-time ranking event winner Trump sees him edge in front in their head-to-head standings, now leading his counterpart 15-14.

Both players came into this week seeking to capture ranking silverware for the first time in over a year. Trump claimed his last ranking crown back at the 2022 Turkish Masters, while the most recent of Higgins’ 31 ranking event wins came at the 2021 Players Championship.

Trump is now just one win away from returning to the winner’s circle, he faces either Mark Selby or Barry Hawkins over the best of 17 frames in the final. The victor will take home the £80,000 top prize.

It was Higgins who started best this afternoon, breaks of 59, 50 and 70 saw him sweep the first three frames and move 3-0 up. However, Trump responded emphatically with contributions of 111 and 93 to pull within one at 3-2. Higgins responded in kind and a brilliant 114 saw him reassert himself on proceedings and lead 4-2.

Trump hit back in the next two frames and drew level at 4-4, but breaks of 54 and 60 helped Higgins to take the ninth and close in on the win at 5-4 in front. He was made to wait for his chance, when Trump was aided by a fluked red which set him up to force a decider. Both players had chances in the final frame, but it was the Bristolian who made a crucial break of 73 to clinch the 6-5 win.

“It is always an incredible game with John. I said before the game that it is a match I always cherish. I know that I need to play somewhere near my best. Obviously today I wasn’t at my best, but I managed to dig in and do what John and Mark Selby do. They don’t give in. I waited for my chances and they came. I had a pressure shot on the pink in the last frame. If I missed, all the balls were there. It was nice to pot that under the upmost pressure,” said 33-year-old Trump.

“When you don’t win early on it depletes your confidence and your belief. The difference this season has been night and day. I could have easily been out in the game against Chris Wakelin when I was 4-0 down and now I am here and playing in the final. That is how fine the line is. There were so many times last season when I should have won and I went out. This time I should have been out and I’m in the final.

“It is important to try and get off to a good start. There is nothing better than winning a tournament at the start of the season. Winning these big ones nowadays puts you in all of the other events. Anyone that gets an event early on seems to have the season of their life. We saw it with Mark Allen last season and me a couple of years before. It just shows how important it is to get off to a good start.”

Higgins said: “He deserved it and potted some pressure balls in the last couple of frames. If I am being hyper critical, I missed a bad red in the fourth frame, but I’m not looking at the negatives. I’m looking at the positives and he played really well in that game. He just managed to pip me and he is a great champion. We always have good games, but I’ve come out losing this time.”