Sunday, 1 May 2011

It's the final countdown

I said "a new star has been born" on this blog on 3 April.

Never have I spoke a truer word.

Judd Trump's performance at this year's World Championship has been simply breathtaking.

From China Open champion, he now finds himself on the cusp of being crowned the greatest player on the planet.

The final day of this year's championship is upon us and 21-year-old Trump goes into it with a 10-7 lead against three-time Crucible king John Higgins, as he bids for glory.

Today, it was business as usual as far as the Juddernaught was concerned.

Two more sessions of scintillating potting and a three-frame advantage was the least he deserved. Higgins was some way short of his best it has to be said, but  Trump was playing just like he has for the entire fortnight, without fear and exactly as you'd imagine he would on the practice table.

This ethos means he's been too hot to handle for defending champion Neil Robertson, Martin Gould, Graeme Dott and Ding Junhui.

I always got the feeling it would be a different story completely when he met Higgins, and although it hasn't proved the case so far, you'd be silly to write him off so soon.

After all, both Ronnie O'Sullivan and Mark Williams have the Scot on the ropes in Sheffield this year. But neither could muster the knockout blow.

That's because as tough players go, Higgins is like granite. He's the most complete player in the sport today, and he never knows when he's beaten. He's a competitive animal, and one of the most tenacious match players the sport has ever produced.

That's why this final is a long way from over.

Judd can go to bed tonight satisfied with his day's work, for sure. But Higgins always has a sting in his tail. His game was created for comebacks, and he loves the big occasion. They don't come any bigger than this, at the home of snooker and against the brightest young talent in the game, who on this showing is capable of dominating the sport for many years to come.

Trump is setting a mould for all future players. He is giving us a glimpse of how the game will be played in the future. It's exciting, but tomorrow is his biggest test yet. He's passed every challenge he's faced so far. But into the pressure cooker tomorrow, we'll see what he's really made of.

If he wins, it will be one of the sports greatest moments. He'll be only the third left-handed world champion, and only the third qualifier to come through and triumph at the Crucible.

If he loses, you just know he'll be back. That's what makes him so dangerous. There's no pressure on him. He's already achieved stardom in Sheffield. Taking the title would just be the icing on the cake.

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