Judd Trump stormed to a 6-1 win over Neil Robertson at the Ladbrokes Players Championship to set up a semi-final with Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Trump has made a fine defence of his title so far, knocking out Stephen Maguire and Robertson, but will face an even tougher test when he comes up against fellow crowd favourite O’Sullivan on Friday evening.
The omens are good for Trump as he beat O’Sullivan in the final of the World Grand Prix at the same venue in Llandudno three years ago, and in the quarter-finals here last year. However, O’Sullivan has won both of their meetings so far this season.
Robertson took the opening frame today with a break of 68 and he had first chance in the second but only made 37. Trump replied with 61 and then took the frame after snookering his opponent on the green.
That proved a crucial moment as Bristol’s Trump went on to win the next five frames with top breaks of 73 and 100.
“The second frame was the turning point because Neil started off really well,” said world number three Trump, aiming to win his second ranking title of the season and ninth of his career. “He could have gone 2-0 up so the whole match turned on that. Neil wasn’t potting the balls he usually pots to get in, he was missing the 50/50 ones. I was capitalising on his mistakes.
“I felt good in the last frame, I was free flowing and my positional play was good. Against anyone in the top 16 you can lose five frames in a row so I still had to be careful with my shot choices when I was 5-1 up. It was nice to win comfortably.
“It will be tough against Ronnie, he is playing well. There are not many players who have a better record against him than me. It helps that I know him on a personal level because I practise with him. I’m probably a bit more comfortable with him than a lot of other players. He played amazingly in the final at the Shanghai Masters and hammered me there (10-3).
“I’m under no illusions as to how hard it will be, I will have to play better than today. A lot of the ranking events I have won, I have knocked him out along the way, and that shows the confidence you can get from beating him.
“I’m happy with my form now looking ahead to the World Championship, although it would be nice to go on and beat him and win this tournament. I think the World Championship is Ronnie’s to lose this year.”