Judd Trump won a magnificent final 10-8 against Mark Allen to capture the williamhill.com UK Championship title.
Trump took his first ranking event on British soil in one of the best finals of recent years. Representing the cream of snooker’s young crop, the two players with a combined age of 47 fired in five centuries and ten more breaks over 50 between them in a contest of outstanding quality.
Bristol’s 22-year-old Trump did the damage with a run of seven consecutive frames to go from 3-1 down to 8-3 up. Allen, so feisty with his back against the wall, battled back by winning five of the next six frames before Trump eventually sealed victory. The tournament will be remembered for the Boy Wonder’s audacious potting and his coining of the phrase ‘naughty snooker’…and tonight was about as naughty as it gets.
A packed house at the York Barbican, where crowds have been excellent all week, saw Trump lift the UK trophy for the first time and pocket a cheque for £100,000.
It’s been a sensational year for the gifted left-hander, who must have wondered eight months ago whether he would ever fulfil his immense talent. The turning point in his career came when he won the China Open last April, beating Mark Selby 10-8 in the final. He went on to reach the final of the World Championship at the Crucible, and though John Higgins won the title, it was Trump who captured the imagination.
This season he made a slow start in full ranking events, but shone in the Players Tour Championship, winning two finals including a memorable 4-3 victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan in PTC9 in Belgium. And this week he rode his luck in early wins over Dominic Dale (6-4) and O’Sullivan (6-5) but then grew stronger as the tournament progressed. Trump is now up to No 5 in the world rankings, and has shown beyond doubt his capacity to go all the way on the big stage.
Antrim’s 25-year-old Allen was playing in his first ranking final having ended a run of five defeats in semi-finals. He must have been confident of going one step further when he led 3-1 early on, but could not contain his free-scoring opponent until it was too late. Allen goes home with £46,000 and is up to tenth in the rankings.
Leading 5-3 after the first session, Trump was off to the perfect start tonight with a break of 109.
Allen was first among the balls in frame ten and made 40 before failing to land on a red when splitting the pack. He went for a risky thin cut on a red in baulk, missed it and sat down for the rest of the frame as Trump rattled in a swift 78 clearance to lead 7-3.
Frame 11 saw another quick-fire break from Trump, a 74. Allen battled gamely for snookers and got one of the two he needed, only for Trump to knock in a long red and extend his lead.
Having lost seven frames in a row, Allen desperately needed to stop the rot, and did so in wonderful fashion with a 139 total clearance to reduce his arrears to 8-4 at the mid-session interval.
And he ignited hopes of a fight-back after the break with a 129 to draw within three frames. But a missed long red from Allen early in frame 14 let Trump in for a smooth 76 to take him to the brink of victory.
Allen took frame 15 with a 125, his fourth century in the six frames he had won. Trump had a match winning chance in the next after a huge fluke on a red, but made only 35 before missing an easy red. It came down to the last red, and a poor safety from Trump left it hanging over a middle pocket. Allen took advantage to draw within two frames at 9-7.
Trump potted four reds with blacks early in frame 17 before running out of position, and Allen ran in 95 to take it, just missing the black when his fifth century beckoned.
The Ulsterman went for a long red at the start of the 18th, and was unlucky to see it rattle in the jaws and finish close to a baulk corner, leaving Trump an easy opener. And he rose to the occasion with a flawless 91, before the crowd rose in turn to celebrate a true classic.
“It feels amazing,” said Trump. “We were both at the top of our game. It was Mark’s first (ranking) final so I was surprised how well he played. If he keeps that up he’ll have no trouble winning tournaments. At 8-3 I just tried to be patient and wait for chances, but he didn’t miss a ball. He was like a machine, he just kept making centuries. I had to make a good break under pressure to win because if it had gone 9-9 he would have been favourite.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to win this tournament. I needed to step my game up and I did it. All week I’ve had support from my family and friends.”
Asked if he would celebrate with any ‘naughty’ behaviour, Trump added: “”I won’t be naughty now until after the World Championship. I can’t buy a Ferrari as I need to get my no claims bonus up, the insurance would not be pretty. But I’ll have a brilliant Christmas and go into next year feeling positive. I can’t wait for the Masters, to see what the atmosphere is like at Ally Pally.
“I’ve still got a lot of improving to do but this is a big confidence boost. I don’t fear anyone. A few players have criticised me this week, but they knew my strengths and weaknesses and they still couldn’t beat me. They say I’m all about potting and my positional play is no good, but I like to prove them wrong. They played well against me and I still beat them quite easily.
“I used to think that no one could dominate the game, but I’ve changed my mind because I haven’t played that well in this tournament and I still won it. A few of the top players are getting on and there’s a big gap to my age.”
Allen said: “In the middle part of the match he played so well. I didn’t do that much wrong, and suddenly I was 8-3 down. It shows how good he is, he is the man of the moment. I just tried to believe in myself and wait for a chance. I got back into it, and in the end I went for a red which was the only one I could leave, and it ended up over the pocket.
“I came here to win the tournament and I haven’t done that, but at least I got over the semi-final hurdle. I have showed that I can handle the big occasion and that stands me in good stead. “