Champion of Champions 2019 – Group 2

Judd Trump is the one who emerged from yesterdays group. He will play Mark Allen on Saturday evening.

This is the official report

TRUMP BLASTS PAST UN-NOOH TO SET UP ALLEN SEMI

Group 2 Final
Judd Trump 6–3 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
73-37, 64-43 (60), 114-16 (114), 132-0 (128), 6-113 (73), 93-0 (89), 33-73 (61), 27-93 (66), 81-0 (71)

Group Semi-Finals
Judd Trump 4-
0 Stephen Maguire
101-0 (76), 102-4 (102), 69-57, 75 (68)-31

Kyren Wilson 3-4 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
82-19 (62), 47-63 (63), 0-81 (51), 7-94 (90), 103-24 (102), 102-0 (98), 8-69 (69)

Judd Trump defeated Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 6-3 in the ManBetX Champion of Champions Group 2 Final to set up a semi-final clash with Mark Allen at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry.

Trump had earlier beaten Stephen Maguire 4-0 in his group semi-final and was the same score ahead of Un-Nooh at the mid-session interval in their best-of-11 group final.

The match was a repeat of Sunday’s final of the Yushan World Open, which Trump won 10-5, the sixth tournament he had won in the last 12 months.

The World No.1 made a flying start but after the break Un-Nooh fought back. A 73 reduced the deficit, but Trump looked on the verge when he took the sixth with a 89 to go 5-1 up. His Thai opponent, though, wasn’t going out without a fight and closed the gap to 5-3 before Trump completed the victory with a 71 break in the ninth.

“I felt good towards the end of the match,” said Trump. “I had a big lead at the interval and a couple of things didn’t go my way towards the end, but I always felt if I had a chance I would take it.

“Recently I have been getting off to good starts and putting opponents under pressure and that was the same today. He was missing a few more than he normally does and I was able to pounce on his mistakes.

“I stayed pretty confident. If it had gone 5-5 I would have been under pressure but I knew I would get another chance and I had the belief I would take it. I have a lot of confidence from the win in Yushan and I am bringing that into this event.

“I saw a little bit of Mark Allen’s match last night. He is an attacking player, I think the table will suit him because it is very, very fast out there and with his cue action that will suit him. It will be a tough semi-final and I’ll have to improve my game from how I played today.”

The group phase of the ManBetX Champion of Champions concludes on Thursday as Ronnie O’Sullivan faces Jimmy White before John Higgins takes on Stuart Bingham.

Judd Trump played well and Theppy, far from his best, was unable to apply much pressure. He fought with all he had though. Both players must still have been jet-lagged – they only arrived back in the UK on Tuesday – but Thepchaiya looked the more affected of the two. It’s maybe not surprising as he already felt tiredness in China. He had told the press that the excitement and the stress of the latter stages were preventing him from sleeping and eating properly. He said that he had lost weight … hopefully he will get back to normal soon or he will disappear altogether!

Regarding the schedule … there was again a discussion on twitter yesterday, starting with one person claiming that the schedule was disgusting and that “surely” the Yushan finalists should have been playing today instead. That immediately evolved into a Ronnie slagging-off party, some suggesting that he had requested to play today, others that WS was “pampering” him, sparing him traveling or spending more time in Coventry … The whole thing was totally unfounded. Ronnie was ALWAYS due to play the last qualifier. At the time Worldsnooker and Matchroom published the schedule, there were still players in the draw in Yushan that had not yet qualified, notably Michael Holt. If one of those had won the World Open they would have been Ronnie’s opponent. They, of course, would have been playing in the Final in Yushan, and, moreover, they would have had to make the necessary arrangements for their travel and stay in Coventry. They couldn’t have done it before they actually qualified. So it was perfectly logical to schedule that group last.

Ronnie plays today … and I just hope he plays better that he did in recent weeks.

 

Champion of Champions 2019 – Group 3

Mark Allen is the second man to qualify for the semi-finals.

Here is how it happened (official report)

ALLEN INTO MANBETX CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS SEMI-FINALS

Group 3
Final

Mark Selby 2–6 Mark Allen
36-57, 75-70 (Allen 70), 116-3 (56, 60), 30-70 (69), 5-106 (65), 50-62, 14-59 (51), 27-74

Group Semi-Finals
Mark Selby 4-
0 Yan Bingtao
78-17 (78), 123-0 (70), 66-35 (65), 83-1

Mark Allen 4-2 Matthew Selt
90-4 (89), 67-60, 59-46, 51-61, 0-65 (59), 108(108)-4

 

Mark Allen beat Mark Selby 6-2 in the Group 3 final to book his place in the semi-finals of the ManBetX Champion of Champions at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.

Allen defeated Matthew Selt 4-2 in his group semi-final to meet Selby, who had earlier beaten Chinese teenage Yan Bingtao 4-0.

Eight of the ten previous encounters between Allen and Selby had gone to a decider and this one looked to be heading the same way at the mid-session, when the scores were level at 2-2.

However, Allen, who was also a semi-finalist of this event in 2016 and last year, took control after the interval. A 65 saw him take the fifth frame and in the next Selby missed a pink at 50-10 ahead. Allen wasn’t able to take immediate advantage, but he did take the frame for a commanding lead.

A 51 in the next took Allen to within one of the match and he sealed it in the eighth to set up a semi-final clash with the winner of tomorrow’s Group 2, which features Judd Trump vs Stephen Maguire and Kyren Wilson vs Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.

“I feel like I played well enough to win 6-2 but a lot of the frames were a bit drawn out,” admitted Allen. “I think I was good value for the 6-2 win but it could have been different if a few snookers went his way towards the end.

“I was thinking at 5-2, if this goes 6-5… but you can’t help thinking that when you’ve had seven best-of-11s go the distance. I had a really good mental attitude tonight. I think what happened in the afternoon I think helped me tonight because I lost focus a little bit earlier when I should have really won 4-0.

“I was fully focused tonight and there were no lapses of concentration at all, and maybe that was the difference. I needed that fourth frame because the way I lost the second frame in particular, making a 70 and losing the frame, you don’t do that often. If I had have been 3-1 down at the interval I would have been kicking myself so to dig deep and win that fourth, I felt it could have been better and 3-1 up but I was over the moon to be 2-2 and very confident.

“I’d love to see Stevie get through tomorrow. He is one of my best mates on tour but it is going to be tough, there are four cracking players. Thepchaiya is the man of the moment apart from Judd, got to the final last week and won an event behind closed doors which you probably haven’t heard about.

“Kyren and Judd have had some great battles but I think Maguire might have something to say tomorrow. But I don’t really care who I play; if I am going to go on and win the tournament it would be nice to beat the World Champion and World No.1 on the way.”

As I didn’t see a ball of it, it’s hard to comment. I’m surprised by the score of the last match though. Not because Mark Allen won – he’s plenty good enough of course – but because after Mark Selby won the English Open I expected him to build on that win and become a real threat again.

Draw and Format for the 2019 Northern Ireland Open

This was published by Worldsnooker yesterday:

World number one Judd Trump will start the defence of his 19.com Northern Ireland Open title against James ‘Giant-Killer’ Cahill next week in Belfast.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the provisional format

The draw for the first round of the tournament has been made, with a 129 players in action over the first two days on Monday November 11 and Tuesday November 12 at the Waterfront Hall, Belfast.

Trump beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-7 in last year’s final and has since won five other tournaments including the World Championship and last week’s World Open, establishing himself as the best player on the planet.

But he faces a tough opening task in Belfast against Cahill, who has a reputation for beating top players. The world number 113 knocked O’Sullivan out of the World Championship earlier this year and has also beaten the likes of Mark Selby, Ding Junhui, Neil Robertson and John Higgins.

That match will take place on Tuesday at 1pm.

Five-time World Champion O’Sullivan has drawn Oliver Lines, with that match to take place either on Monday at 7pm or Tuesday at 7pm. The full format will be confirmed by this Friday, following the conclusion of this week’s group stages of the Champion of Champions tournament.

Home favourite Mark Allen is up against Sam Craigie on either Monday afternoon or Tuesday afternoon.

Mark Selby won last month’s 19.com English Open so he is the only player who can win the £1 million bonus available for capturing all four Home Nations titles. He will be up against China’s Xu Si on either Monday afternoon or Tuesday afternoon.

Northern Irish wild cards Patrick Wallace and Robbie McGuigian will go head to head in a preliminary round match on Monday at 7pm.

Other top stars in action over the first two days include John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy and Jimmy White.

The tournament runs from November 11 to 17 with a top prize of £70,000 up for grabs. It will be televised on Eurosport and Quest.

Regarding Ronnie’s draw, Louis Heathcote is a dangerous player. I really hope that Ronnie doesn’t take him for granted because over a brest of seven, he’s more than capable to cause an upset. Ronnie has never played him as he is in his first year on the main tour. And Zhou yuelong could possibly waiting in round three.

Unless I didn’t read properly … Mark Williams hasn’t entered.

Champion of Champions 2019 – Group 4

Group 4 of the 2019 Champion of Champions was played yesterday, with Neil Robertson emerging as the winner. He will play the winner of Group 1 in the semi finals on Friday evening.

Here is the official report

ROBERTSON REACHES SEMIS AFTER EVANS FORCES MURPHY DECIDER

GROUP SEMI-FINALS
Neil Robertson 4-0 Martin Gould
62-35 (62), 77-10 (77), 68-67, 64-55

Shaun Murphy 4-3 Reanne Evans
74-1, 86-26, 65-44, 41-64, 38-75, 53-77 (Murphy 32, Evans 51), 134-0 (130)

GROUP FINAL
Neil Robertson 6–5 Shaun Murphy
46-72 (67), 1-98 (98), 75-86, 95 (95)-20, 121-3 (90), 100-30 (100), 17-101 (76), 64-53 (Robertson 64), 0-84, 89-19 (53), 74-17

Neil Robertson is through to the semi-finals of the ManBetX Champion of Champions thanks to a 6-5 victory over Shaun Murphy, who had earlier been taken to a deciding frame by World Women’s Snooker Champion Reanne Evans, at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.

Robertson never led in the Group Four final but came from 3-0 down to draw level with Murphy before the match moved to a decider at 5-5. Looking on course for the victory at 46 ahead, The Thunder From Down Under missed a black to the middle but Murphy was unable to capitalise and Robertson eventually took to deciding frame for a place in Friday’s semi-final, where he’ll face the winner of Group One, which plays out on Thursday.

“The game had a bit of everything,” said the Australian. “I think the crowd really enjoyed it, there were a few close frames, a few 90s and a century. It was a bit of a scrappy start for me but once I settled in from 3-0 down I thought I played some decent stuff and was really pleased to get through to the semis.

“The semi-final will be a really tough one, whoever it is. Jimmy will be really up for playing Ronnie an John and Stuart are just as likely to beat each other. I am sure it will be a high quality group but whoever it is in the semi-finals, you will never get an easy match.”

Earlier in the day Murphy had also been 3-0 up against Evans, but the 12-time Women’s World Champion took advantage as the World No. 8 struggled and forced the best-of-7 match to a deciding frame. Murphy ultimately prevailed with a match-winning break of 130 to set up the group final with Robertson, who had earlier beaten Martin Gould 4-0 in his group semi-final.

China Championship winner Murphy quickly moved to a 3-0 lead in the group final but Robertson cut the deficit with a 95 before the mid-session interval. ‘The Thunder From Down Under’ took the fifth frame with a break of 90 and then drew level with the first century of the match – a break of exactly 100.

From there Murphy twice regained the lead and was twice pegged back as Robertson forced the decider.

Speaking after her semi-final defeat to Murphy, Evans said: “I went 3-0 down despite lots of chances but I couldn’t push the cue through, I was all over the place. When I knicked a frame it really settled me down and I played well in the next few frames and felt comfortable to take my chances.

“The women’s game is getting there and I hope things like today can inspire others to play and up their game a little bit, and practice more. Hopefully young female players can see that I have competed there and hopefully they can see themselves in my shoes in a few years time.”

Speaking after the match, Shaun Murphy was full of praise for his opponent

“It’s a funny world we live in. This woman here, she’s a 12-time champion of the world completely disregarded by the general British sporting public at large,” Murphy told ITV4.

“People are throwing MBEs and awards out at people left, right and centre – she’s got 12 world titles to her name and nothing after her name. It’s a disgrace.

“It was a tough game of snooker, she didn’t disgrace herself at all, and I really hope we see more of her on the main tour events.”

Reanne had one season on the main tour, in 2010, and couldn’t make much of it. That, however, was before newcomers on the tour were given a two years card, as it became clear that one year was not enough time for new professionals to really adjust and break through. At the time, she didn’t win a match, but since she has played in the World Championship qualifiers and proved that she can compete: in 2015, she pushed Ken Doherty very hard, eventualy losing by 10-8 and in 2017 she beat Robin Hull by the same score.

Regarding the matches, I only had the opportunity to watch the first one: Marin Gould v Neil Robertson. The sad truth is that Martin”s game seems to be in shambles really, or maybe it’s his confidence that is very low. Whatever, he played very badly. Neil himself wasn’t actually playing well: in the last two frames Martin had several very good chances and couldn’t take any of them.

Judd Trump wins the Zhiyuan 2019 World Open

Judd Trump won the 2019 World Open, beating Thepchaiya Un-Nooh by 10-5.

Congratulations Judd Trump

Here is the report by Worldsnooker:

Judd Trump strengthened his status as snooker’s leading player by beating Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 10-5 in the final of the Zhiyuan World Open in Yushan.

Despite a late rally from Un-Nooh from 8-2 down to 8-5, world number one Trump won comfortably in China to take the £150,000 top prize.

It’s his sixth title within the past year, having also won the Northern Ireland Open, the Masters, the World Grand Prix, the World Championship and the Internantional Championship. From those six events alone he has earned £1.195 million.

Bristol’s 30-year-old Trump has now won 13 ranking titles, bringing him level with Ding Junhui on the all-time list, and just three behind both Mark Selby and Neil Robertson.

Thailand’s 34-year-old Un-Nooh was aiming for his second ranking title having won the Shoot Out earlier this year, but couldn’t produce his free flowing best until it was too late. The £75,000 runner-up prize is still he biggest of his career. He jumps 15 places to 22nd in the world rankings.

After sharing the first two frames, Trump fired breaks of 96, 78, 90 and 85 to lead 5-1. Un-Nooh then made a critical error in the seventh, missing a red three times when he wasn’t snookered, which cost him the frame.

A run of 68 helped put Trump further ahead, though he lost the next on a respotted black to leave the score at 7-2 after the first session.

In the concluding session, Trump moved further ahead with a run of 64, before Un-Nooh pulled one back on the colours then took two more with 80 and 56 to close to 8-5.

But Trump regained the momentum with a superb 136, and sealed the result in frame 15 with breaks of 61 and 36.

“I’m very happy,” said Trump. “I didn’t play that well all week, I won a lot of close games 5-4 and 6-5, and then I played better today. I have worked very hard this season to try to replicate what I did last season. I try to enjoy myself every time I come to China.

“To win two titles already this season and to be number one in the rankings is very good. It puts me in a good position where I can just relax.  I want to win the UK Championship so I can hold all three Triple Crowns at the same time.

“This event is at an excellent new venue, it looks amazing from the outside. The crowds all week have been great, much better than last year.”

Un-Nooh said: “I feel disappointed about my performance, it was a bad day for me. I made a lot of mistakes and gave Judd chances. When I was 7-1 down I had no hope. The frame I lost with three misses, I don’t know why I did it, I felt stupid. Last night I din’t go to sleep until 3am. There was a lot of pressure because it was my first big ranking final and there were two million fans in Thailand watching me.”

Thepchaiya’s quotes just show how wrong Judd was in his assesment of his opponent state of mind and the pressure he was under.

This is the “3 misses” incident in frame 7

Thepchaya fought valiantly, managing to win the last frame of the session and three frames in the second session. He must have been absolutely devastated after that incident. I hope that he can take the positives in a couple of days, and I’m sure that Thailand is proud of him, not matter what happened today, and rightly so.

 

Zhiyuan World Open 2019 – the SFs

Tomorrow the Final will be contested between Judd Trump and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh

Here is how we got there (reports by Worldsnooker)

Afternoon Session

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh came from 4-1 and 5-3 down to beat Kyren Wilson 6-5 and reach the final of the Zhiyuan World Open in Yushan.

Wilson had several match-winning chances in the closing stages but couldn’t take advantage and was beaten to the finish line by Thailand’s 34-year-old Un-Nooh, who will face Judd Trump or John Higgins in Sunday’s final.

Un-Nooh’s only previous ranking final was the one-frame Shoot Out earlier this year, when he beat Michael Holt. He is also a former Six Red World Champion, but tomorrow’s match will be the biggest of his career by far. The world number 37 is already guaranteed his best ever pay day of £75,000, and that will be doubled if he takes the trophy.

In a surprisingly scrappy match between two attacking players, world number nine Wilson took the first three frames despite a top break of just 44. Un-Nooh pulled one back then Wilson nicked the fifth by clearing the colours to go 4-1 up.

Kettering’s Wilson led 42-0 in the next only for Un-Nooh to make a 74 clearance.  The next two were shared to leave the score at 5-3, then Un-Nooh took the ninth by clearing the colours, and made a 67 in winning the tenth for 5-5.

Three-time ranking event winner Wilson had first clear chance in the decider and made 38 before missing a straight-forward red. Un-Nooh replied with 61 to give himself the advantage. It came down to the colours and Wilson took the yellow but then missed the green to a top corner, trying to screw back for position. Un-Nooh cleared from green to pink for victory.

“I feel great,” said Un-Nooh. “Before the match I knew I was the under-dog because Kyren is better than me. He’s a big name and he’s in the top ten in the world. But he missed a lot of balls today. When I was 4-1 down my head was gone, but I was still concentrating frame by frame. I did well.

“This is very different to the Shoot Out, that event is only one frame and depends on destiny. This event is long frames and big money. Playing in China is similar to playing in Thailand for me, I am happy here.

“If I play Judd Trump tomorrow the game will be quick, if it’s John Higgins it will be slower. Let’s see what happens. I prefer to play Judd and many Thai people want me to play him, because he beat me at the Crucible (10-9 in the first round). It would be a good game.

“I won’t sleep tonight and I can’t eat. Before the game today I couldn’t eat. I have lost weight this week. When I get to the semis and the final it’s exciting and I can only sleep and eat a little bit.”

Wilson said: “I’m gutted about my performance, I was so poor. Thepchaiya was as well – by his very good standards – so I’m gutted I couldn’t make the most of that. He will have to sharpen up and play a lot better to have any chance in the final. He’s a lovely guy and I wish him all the best. Maybe I peaked a bit too early in this event. I tried my heart out today but it was one of my worst ever performances.”

It wasn’t a great match, quality wise. I may be wrong but my feeling was that Kyren was feeling the pressure out there: after all, he was the one with the expectations on his shoulders. Although I’m sure that Thepchaiya had it own share as well, with the hopes of his country firmly on him. But somehow i felt like Thepchaiya was better as putting mistakes behind him and refocus.

Evening Session

Judd Trump fended off a late rally from John Higgins to win 6-5 and reach the final of the Zhiyuan World Open in China.

Trump was hauled back from 5-2 to 5-5 but got the better of a tense deciding frame. He will faceThepchaiya Un-Nooh in Sunday’s final, with first to ten frames to take the trophy and top prize of £150,000.

Bristol’s Trump is aiming for his sixth title within the past year, having won the Northern Ireland Open, the Masters, World Grand Prix, World Championship and International Championship. The 30-year-old will be competing in his 22nd ranking final and aiming for his 13th title.

Today’s match was a repeat of the Crucible final in May which Trump won 18-9, and again he came out on top, though he was pushed all the way by four-time World Champion Higgins.

A scrappy opening frame went Trump’s way, then Higgins took two in a row with top breaks of 50 and 52 to lead 2-1. Trump then took control, winning four frames in a row with a top break of 99 to lead 5-2.

Higgins made an 89 clearance in frame eight to reduce his deficit. The ninth came down to the colours, and a safety error from Trump on the yellow gave his opponent the chance to make it 5-4. Trump made 59 in the next before running out of position, and Higgins clawed his way back into it, eventually clearing from green to pink for 5-5.

Higgins potted the first red of the decider but missed a tricky black along the top cushion. Trump made 55 before playing safe, then Higgins had a chance to counter but made just 15 before missing the pink to a centre pocket. World number one Trump added the points he needed to book his final spot.

“It was very dramatic,” said Trump. “I thought I was going to lose. I was getting chances but messing them up because I was worried about John coming back at me. When you play him you’re always on edge, he puts extra pressure on you. In the end I did well to get over the line. I made a good break in the last frame and then he missed quite an easy pink. It’s nice to know he is human.

“I haven’t played great all week. In spells I have been ok, but nowhere near my best. I have had to dig in which is pleasing.

“Thepchaiya is the most exciting player in the game, he has even overtaken Ronnie O’Sullivan. A lot of other players think he’s the best to watch and I agree with that. He is free-flowing and gets on with the game.  We need more people like that in snooker. He plays a bit like I did five or ten years ago, he hasn’t got a care in the world, he goes for his shots and if they go in then he’s unbeatable. It should be a good final for the fans, though hopefully I can win a bit more easily.”

Scotland’s Higgins said: “It wasn’t great in terms of standard but it still had the drama that we always seem to produce. This time he got me at the finish line. I felt good at 5-5 because I was timing the ball better. I’m disappointed to miss the pink. It would have been difficult to clear up but I could have got myself back into the frame. I threw a quick one in and hit it too hard. I was in two minds whether to hold the pink spot or screw back a bit, and in the end I played nothing.

“I have to take the positives this week because I only had a couple of days practice with my new cue and in the end to push Judd to 6-5 in the semis gives me some confidence for the rest of the season. Today was the worst I have played this week but at least I’m heading in the right direction.”

It seems to me that Judd still has a problem with Ronnie…. Thepchaiya is exciting to watch, and I like to watch him, but he is Thepachaya, not Ronnie. They don’t play the same game, and they certainly don’t have similar personalities. Why compare the two? Also, having a family to support, and the hopes of a nation on his shoulders, I very much doubt that he hasn’t a care in the world.

I would LOVE to see Theppy lift that trophy tomorrow. I know it’s unlikely but … you never know.

Zhiyuan World Open 2019 – the QFs

It was QF day in Yushan, and again I didn’t see anything of it. Thepchaiya is probably the surprise name in the SF line-up. Personally, I like his game and I’m very happy to see him reaching the latter stages of events lately. He’s entertaining, he’s genuine and it’s good to see an Asian player being succesful. The Shoot Out may not be a “true” ranking event, but it seems that winning it has given Theppy confidence and self-belief. It’s a big ask but I’d love to see him lift the trophy come Sunday.

Here are the reports by Worlsnooker:

Afternoon session

Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh will meet Englishman Kyren Wilson in the last four of the Zhiyuan World Open as both came through their quarter-final matches on Friday.

Un-Nooh came from 4-2 down to edge out David Gilbert 5-4, reaching the sixth ranking event semi-final of his career. The 34-year-old from Bangkok won his first ranking title last season at the one frame Shoot Out, but has lost all four semi-finals he has played over a longer format.

From 2-1 down, Gilbert won three frames in a row with breaks of 100, 55 and 62 to lead 4-2. But world number 37 Un-Nooh, the fastest player on the tour with an average shot time of 16.6 seconds, reeled off the last three frames in 37 minutes with runs of 77, 66 and 96.

World number nine Wilson saw off China’s Zhou Yuelong 5-3 to reach his 12th ranking semi-final. He is aiming for his fourth career ranking title.

From 1-0 down, Kettering’s Wilson won three frames in a row with top runs of 119 and 64. Zhou took two of the next three to leave the score at 4-3, before Wilson sealed victory in the eighth with breaks of 52 and 33.

In the second session of quarter-final action on Friday, Judd Trump takes on Michael Holt and John Higgins plays Stuart Bingham.

The semi-finals are on Saturday followed by the final on Sunday, with a top prize of £150,000 up for grabs.

Evening session

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’sManBetX 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.