Defending and World Champion Judd Trump leads Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-3 after the first session of the 19.com Northern Ireland Open final in Belfast.
The clash is a repeat of last year’s final, where Trump emerged a 9-7 victor in a thrilling encounter. The first player to reach nine frames this evening will pick up £70,000 and the Alex Higgins Trophy.
Victory for 36-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan would see him overtake Stephen Hendry and become snooker’s outright most prolific ranking event winner.
If Trump were to take home the title he would become the first World Champion to win three ranking titles in the season following their maiden Crucible win, since Hendry achieved the feat in 1990/91.
This afternoon’s session was played to a remarkable standard, with eight breaks over 50 in the eight frames played. That included two century contributions.
Trump started fastest with runs of 68 and 56 to move into an early 2-0 lead. The Rocket got his first frame on the board with a sublime 126.
However, Trump wasn’t to be denied the lead at the mid-session, crafting his own century break of 123 to make it 3-1.
O’Sullivan pulled within a frame when they returned, continuing the streak of single visit snooker with a break of 88. Trump moved 5-2 ahead by claiming two on the bounce, before O’Sullivan secured the final frame of the session to finish 5-3 down.