We have a repeat of last year final in Belfast! Being a Ronnie fan, I hope for a different outcome this time of course. However, if at the start of this week I had been told that Ronnie would reach the final, I would have taken it with both hands. Already now he has secured his spot well inside the top 32 on the one year list, which is important in the context of the Coral Cup.
Here are the reports by Worldsnooker:
Defending champion Judd Trump is through to a second successive 19.com Northern Ireland Open final after a 6-3 defeat of John Higgins at the Waterfront Hall.
Trump’s victory last year here in Belfast marked the start of a golden season. He defeated Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-7 in a thrilling final and went on to win maiden titles at the Masters and the World Championship. Tomorrow Trump will face either O’Sullivan or Joe Perry in the final for the Alex Higgins Trophy and a top prize of £70,000.
This will be Trump’s fourth final in what has already been a very impressive campaign for the Bristolian. Victories at the International Championship and the World Open have solidified his position at the top of the world rankings. 30-year-old Trump also narrowly lost out 10-9 to Neil Robertson in a thrilling final at last week’s Champion of Champions.
Higgins leaves Belfast disappointed, having lost his third consecutive match against Trump. The Wizard of Wishaw fell short in the World Championship final back in May and was also pipped 6-5 in the semi-finals of this season’s World Open.
Both players struggled in the early stages of this afternoon’s encounter. However, it was Trump who edged to an early 2-1 lead. Higgins then composed a run of 78 to restore parity at the mid-session.
When they returned Higgins carried forward his momentum with a break of 88, which saw him take to the front at 3-2.
However, from there Trump seized control of the game. He edged scrappy sixth and seventh frames to move 4-3 ahead. A break of 67, aided by a sublime development shot from the black, saw him move one from victory. Trump then wrapped up the tie with a break of 136 to emerge with a 6-3 win.
Trump said: “It wasn’t up until 4-3, when I played a good shot off the black, that I started to play well. It just gave me a bit of inspiration and I was able to close the match out. John has come back at me a million times before, so I know how dangerous he is.
“The crowd support I have got here over the last couple of years has helped me. It certainly helped me last year and it did again today. At times I was very patchy and missed easy balls. Them calling out and giving their encouragement helped. I think they have warmed to me. Especially at the end when I won I felt the love out there.”
Higgins said: “I missed a trick there I think. Judd wasn’t as sharp as he has been for the rest of the tournament, but when he had to he stepped up.
“I have no complaints. I had enough chances there and I didn’t take them. If you look at the quality of chances that I got and didn’t take advantage of, I have nobody to blame but myself.”
Neither player played well for most of the match. The table had been recovered, and, in the studio, Judd said that he really struggled to adapt to the different conditions, with the cloth being fast, but the cushions playing slow. The whole match turned on one – fantastic – shot actually.
Ronnie O’Sullivan produced a superb display to thrash Joe Perry 6-1 and set up a mouth-watering meeting with Judd Trump in tomorrow’s 19.com Northern Ireland Open final in Belfast.
The clash with the Ace in the Pack will be a repeat of last year’s final, where Trump came through a 9-7 winner in a thrilling match.
If 36-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan can get the better of Trump tomorrow, he will move ahead of Stephen Hendry and gain the outright record for most ranking titles won.
The on table rivalry between five-time World Champion O’Sullivan and Trump has become the sport’s ultimate heavyweight clash in recent years. They’ve met 21 times, with O’Sullivan holding an 11-10 advantage in the head-to-head.
O’Sullivan leads today’s opponent Perry in their head-to-head record by a much more substantial margin. After victory this evening he has now won 16 of their 18 professional meetings.
World number 15 Perry will now turn his attentions to the UK Championship, where a strong showing could clinch his place at January’s Masters, with the cut off to be in the top 16 and qualify coming at the end of the event.
Breaks of 58, 54 and 72 helped O’Sullivan stride into a 4-0 lead at the mid-session interval this evening. When they returned a further run of 90 moved him just a frame from victory.
Perry claimed the next frame to get on the scoreboard. However, O’Sullivan then wrapped up a one hour and ten minute win with a break of 71.
“Joe didn’t play his usual standard tonight. He made it quite easy for me. I didn’t play great, but I picked up the pieces. Sometimes that is what you’ve got to do. I’m pleased to be in the final,” said O’Sullivan. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I haven’t played in many tournaments this season. I’ve done alright in the ones I have played in. It is just nice to be in another final.
“I think they love their sport here. They love their snooker. I’m sure it will be a very good crowd. Hopefully it is a good occasion and hopefully we can put on a show for the fans who have paid their money to be here and that are watching on television.
“It is up to Judd (what he goes on to achieve). At the end of the day it is how long you want to be in the sport, how much you want to dedicate to it. I’ve dedicated all my life to it. That is what you have to do. I have talent, John Higgins has talent, Mark Williams has talent and Judd has talent. But if you don’t put the hours in and dedicate your life to it then it is easy to go off the boil.
“I’ve learned from Hendry. You have to be very disciplined. I wasn’t the most disciplined and I had to learn that side of it. I think Judd has been similar to me. He has had to learn that side of it. He is definitely the man to beat and he age on his side.”
Joe Perry had a nightmare out there, and Ronnie himself wasn’t at his best, but he did more than enough. He will have to improve though if he is to win today. In particular, he needs to get more of the long pots in order to create his own chances. He can’t rely on Judd to miss too much. Judd will probably start as favourite today, but… good luck Ronnie!
images shared by Worldsnooker on twitter
Both players have a “milestone” in sight today: Judd could become the first player since Hendry in the 1990/91 to win three or more tournaments as a first time World Champion (*), Ronnie could surpass Hendry’s all times record by winning a 37th ranking title.
Studio coverage to be added if/when available
(*) Hendry won five that time.