Judd Trump boosted his hopes of winning a sixth title within the past year by thrashing Michael Holt 5-1 in the quarter-finals of the Zhiyuan World Open in Yushan.
In Saturday’s semi-finals, Trump will face John Higgins in a repeat of this year’s World Championship final, which Trump won 18-9. That Crucible triumph was one of five titles Trump has collected within the past 12 months, alongside the Northern Ireland Open, the Masters, World Grand Prix and International Championship.
He is already well ahead of Ronnie O’Sullivan at the top of the world rankings and two more wins this week would give him the £150,000 first prize and strengthen his status as snooker’s top dog.
After winning a scrappy opening frame against Holt, 30-year-old Trump rattled in breaks of 93 and 90 to go 3-0 up, then got the better of a fragmented fourth.
Holt made a 74 clearance in the fifth to make it 4-1 but Trump quickly quashed his hopes of a fight-back with a run of 50 in the sixth. Bristol’s Trump is through to his 36th ranking event semi-final and is chasing his 13th title.
“My long potting was good and created a lot of chances,” said Trump. “I managed to win a couple of close frames. Michael missed a few chances and I was able to capitalise. I’m only at about 50% or 60% compared to the way I played at the World Championship. The confidence isn’t quite there, I am missing a few easy balls. With every game it is coming – it’s still early in the season so I’m trying to gain momentum.
“I love playing John Higgins because I can always learn from him. He plays the game in the correct way, always playing the right shots. Hopefully he looks at me and sees me as a challenge. He is managing the number of events he plays in this season so the ones he does enter he is coming into them fresh and hungry. This is first time for a while I have sen him happy and relaxed at the venue and that shows in the way he is playing.”
The result means that World Seniors Champion Jimmy White is guaranteed a place at next week’s ManBetX Champion of Champions, and will play Ronnie O’Sullivan in Coventry. Holt could have taken that spot by winning the tournament this week.
Higgins booked his semi-final place with a 5-2 defeat of Stuart Bingham. Scotland’s Higgins is aiming for his 31st career ranking title and first since the 2018 Welsh Open.
Runs of 66 and 80 helped give Higgins a 3-0 lead before Bingham, who made four centuries in beating Mark Selby yesterday, pulled one back with a 110. World number six Higgins made a 57 in taking the fifth frame to lead 4-1. Yet another ton from Bingham – a 138 total clearance – gave him the sixth, but Higgins started the next with a run of 70 which proved enough to book his 72nd ranking semi-final.
“I got in early in several frames and made some good breaks,” said Higgins, who is playing with a new cue this week. “Judd is beginning to bring the same electricity that Ronnie O’Sullivan does to the table, whenever you play him. We’ve had great matches in the past. The new cue has given me a lot of confidence this week and more power in my game, which you need against Judd otherwise he can blast you off the table. I’m looking forward to it.
“Right now you can say Judd is the second best break builder the game has ever seen, because he will probably go on and score over 1,000 centuries. Before he won the world title there were people questioning some of the shots he went for, but I was always saying it was a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ he won it, and I think he’ll win it multiple times. He is such a devastating scorer that sometimes there’s not much you can do. If I don’t play well and compete, I won’t win.”
The other semi-final will be between Kyren Wilson and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, who both came through the quarters earlier today.