Snooker: Trump dismisses Murphy, O’Sullivan leads

Ronnie O'Sullivan (right) leads 9-7 overnight. Picture: Getty

Ronnie O'Sullivan (right) leads 9-7 overnight. Picture: Getty

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JUDD Trump has dismissed Shaun Murphy’s claim that his form may have nosedived because he began to take winning titles for granted.

The pair meet in the quarter-finals of the Betfair World Championship after surviving the rash of big-name upsets in the opening two rounds. Murphy is targeting his second Crucible triumph, after winning the trophy as a qualifier in 2005, while Bristol cueman Trump is eyeing a second final following his defeat to John Higgins two years ago. It promises to be a high-quality last-eight match, but there could be added spice after Murphy floated the suggestion that Trump may have developed a sense of entitlement.

When asked about Trump’s early-round defeats at the UK Championship and Masters this season, Murphy said: “When you go around not predicting you’re going to win but having that air about you that you’re definitely going to win, and it’s just a matter of you turning up, I think it sometimes can put a little bit of undue pressure on yourself.

“I’m sure he would probably admit that has happened over the last few years. But he has had massive success. He’s ripped through the field on a lot of 
occasions and you can see by the way he scores he’s like a knife through butter.”

Trump did not concur with Murphy’s claim, saying: “Shaun doesn’t know me so he wouldn’t know what I do. I just go in with the same attitude to every tournament, and at every one I’m fully prepared to win. A couple of times this season it’s been a struggle really to get up for it, but at this World Championship I’m fully prepared and coming in as well as anyone.”

Murphy believes Trump brings plenty of sparkle to snooker, and he has no problem with the 23-year-old exuding positivity at the table. “I don’t think Judd lacks confidence,” Murphy said. “I think he’s a phenomenal talent, he’s really, really good for snooker.”

Trump feels his game has changed since he embarked on a thrilling run to the final two years ago, with fear of missing creeping in and tempering his “naughty snooker” approach.

“I don’t think my long potting can go back to what it was,” Trump said. “Back then it was fearless and I didn’t think about missing. As you grow up you do start to think about missing a little bit, but it’s getting there.”

Meanwhile, Ronnie O’Sullivan turned on the style just when he looked to be wobbling to stay ahead of Ali Carter in their second-round clash. O’Sullivan let a 5-1 lead slip as Carter fought back to 7-7, but O’Sullivan regained his composure to finish 9-7 ahead. The two Essex boys return tonight to finish off, with 13 frames the target for a place in the quarter-finals. O’Sullivan’s rivals know he will be hard to stop, with Murphy saying: “I’ve had a really consistent year but when Ronnie’s in the event it’s hard to look past him.”

Ken Doherty, the 1997 world champion, believes O’Sullivan has a crucial advantage as his rivals feel the toll of a long season. “The likes of Mark Selby, Neil Robertson and Mark Allen have played almost 100 matches this season. That’s quite a lot,” Doherty said. Those big names have fallen but O’Sullivan remains on the prowl for the big prize. Doherty added: “He’s come into this tournament so fresh and he’s a fit young man as well. That may play a small part in the whole of this World Championship.”

A host of low-ranked players remain in the tournament, with 21-year-old world number 40 Michael White through to the quarter-finals in the bottom half of the draw, along with Barry Hawkins, and Doherty is not discounting a shock winner of the title, likening the situation to the 1986 championship when long shot Joe Johnson triumphed. “The bottom half is so open that we maybe could have a ‘Joe Johnson year’ this year, with someone coming completely from the field, a complete outsider, getting easily to the final at least,” Doherty said.

Ding Junhui came from 6-2 behind against Mark King to lead 9-7, while Mark Davis and Stuart Bingham are level at 8-8 and Ricky Walden leads Robert Milkins 10-6.

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