Friday, 1 April 2011

China Open - Day five - Tremendous Trump advances to semis

Another day has passed at this year's exciting China Open, and again the standard of snooker was of the highest order.

Day five always threatened to be a thriller with five world finalists among the line-up.

But as eight title hopefuls became four in Beijing, it was 21-year-old Judd Trump who led the way.

He put in arguably the best performance of his season so far as he stormed to the second ranking event semi-final of his career with an impressive 5-1 win against Peter Ebdon.

Judd was a deserved winner on the day, outclassing Ebdon in every single department.

And this just about sums up Peter's patchy season.

Yesterday, he beat the world champion Neil Robertson by the same scoreline and was playing the kind of snooker that has won him ranking events down the years.

But today, he was a shadow of himself just 24 hours earlier. He was being outscored and even overrun in the safety department by Trump.

It's difficult to know off the back of this which Ebdon will turn up in Sheffield but I'm still pleased for Judd. This is the first time he's made it to the last four of a ranking event since the Grand Prix in 2008.

He looks to be playing with confidence and the win also means he's up to 15th in the provisional world rankings.

If Trump can secure his place in the top 16 by the end of the season, it could mark the start of him beginning to realise his massive potential.

When I think of Judd, I know there's a player who is destined to spend many years in the top 16. I think he has the ability to already be there, but his early career hasn't gone exactly to plan.

For such a young lad, he's always been given a rough ride in the snooker press, but the problem is he's been the victim of his own promise.

Big things were expected of him from a young age and while he hasn't managed to emulate Stephen Hendry and win titles in his youth, Trump has by no means become a bad player. He's just had to wait a little longer than everyone thought for him to kick on.

Despite the criticism he's received, he's always stuck by his attacking game and in my opinion, he's still a future world champion. His tremendous display today endorses that view further.

Is he ready to win his first ranking event this week? Well to stand a chance, he must first beat Shaun Murphy in the semi-finals.

The Magician hasn't been at his dazzling best this week as he made hard work of beating Joe Perry and Li Hang, but today he stepped it up a gear, like all true champions seem to do at the business end of tournaments.

He beat the toughest of them all in the world of snooker, as he swept past John Higgins 5-2.

For me, this sets a marker that Murphy is very much in the running the world title for a second time this season. His long-potting is looking as good as anyone, and in the balls, he's as fluid as ever. Trump will have to be at his best to stand any chance of making his first final.

On the other side of the draw, it's a tale of two players closing down Mark Williams for the world number one spot.

The form man Mark Selby has had a great week, and produced some cracking snooker to advance past Ali Carter 5-1.

The Jester from Leicester is provisionally ranked at number two right now and is enjoying a consistent season.

He's often slated in the media for his 'negative' style of play. That couldn't have been further off the mark today as he rattled in breaks of 129, 130 and 139 on route to his quarter-final win.

While Selby can sometimes be accused of not pushing the boat out, he showed what he can produce if the balls permit it.

Nonsense theories about his negative approach to matches just show why he is so high in the rankings, because he can adapt to a different tactic when it's not all going his way, and still get results.

To make it to Sunday's final, he'll have to come past China's own Ding Junhui. He's not been playing at his best this week but defeated Stephen Lee 5-2 as he chases a second successive final in this competition. His victory saw him climb above Higgins into third in the provisional rankings.

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