Trump has already won the BetVictor English Open and Wuhan Open this month
Judd Trump recovered a 4-1 deficit to beat Barry Hawkins 6-4 in the semi-finals of the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open and is now just one win away from becoming the first player in a decade to capture three consecutive ranking titles.
Bristol’s Trump has won 19 matches in a row, many of those from losing positions including tonight’s contest as he was outplayed by Hawkins in the early stages but yet again stormed back to sprint past the winning line. The 34-year-old will meet Chris Wakelin on Sunday in Belfast and first to nine frames will lift the Alex Higgins Trophy and bank £80,000. Trump has won all 11 of his previous meetings with Wakelin and will start a heavy favourite to complete the historic hat-trick.
The only other players to win three ranking titles in a row are Ray Reardon, Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and most recently Ding Junhui in 2013. Trump is also looking to win his fourth Northern Ireland Open title having worn the crown in 2018, 2019 and 2020. And the world number three is certain to extend his lead over Hawkins at the top of the BetVictor Series rankings, with a £150,000 bonus up for grabs later in the season.
Trump is into his 41st ranking event final, equalling the tally of Davis and behind only Ronnie O’Sullivan (61), Stephen Hendry (57) and John Higgins (55).
Hawkins, who beat Trump in the BetVictor European Masters final in August, took the first two frames tonight with a top break of 58. In the third, a poor safety from Trump on the final yellow handed his opponent the chance to go 3-0 ahead. Trump pulled one back with a run of 90, only for Hawkins to make it 4-1 with a 75.
Back came Trump with two breaks of 70 to close to 4-3, and he dominated a scrappy eighth frame to square the contest. Frame nine came down to the colours and Trump missed a risky double on the brown, but Hawkins then failed on a difficult pink to a top corner, and fell behind for the first time. That proved the crucial moment, as Trump went on to close out the match in perfect fashion with a 128 total clearance, his fifth century of the tournament.
“Barry was in total control at 4-1,” admitted Trump. “I felt I needed to make things happen. The momentum turned and I started getting in first every frame. The big turning point was 4-4 when we both had a few chances in that frame. Having won so many matches in a row, I felt I was going to take my chance in the last frame. When I get on a roll I am able to go a few frames without missing many balls and maybe at the moment that’s the difference between me and everyone else.
“I have watched a few of Chris Wakelin’s games and he has improved a hell of a lot. I don’t think this will be a one-off, like a few players who you feel might not reach another final. He blew Jack (Lisowski) away today and played some incredible snooker. He could do that against me tomorrow, though to do it in a final is a different kettle of fish. I definitely won’t be taking him lightly.”