Jubilant Judd reflects on rise
Judd Trump has been reflecting on "a long road" to attain world number one status after he reached the top rung and another major final.
The 23-year-old from Bristol made a 147 maximum break in an age-group event as a 14-year-old and has been a professional since the age of 16, but making the transition from being an all-conquering junior to the paid ranks was not the easiest step.
It took Trump several years to bed down as a professional, and it was almost out of the blue in April 2011 when, as a qualifier, he lifted the China Open.
Trump has not looked back, going on to reach the World Championship final a month later and then landing the UK Championship title in York in December of last year.
He stands on the brink of another major trophy, having swatted aside Peter Ebdon 9-1 in their International Championship final in Chengdu, China, today, to set up a showdown on Sunday with Neil Robertson or Shaun Murphy, who contest the second semi-final on Saturday.
Trump leapfrogs Mark Selby, a second-round loser this week, to join the club of number one players which is made up by Ray Reardon, Cliff Thorburn, Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins, Mark Williams, Ronnie O'Sullivan and Robertson. The ranking system was put in place in 1976.
"It's a proud moment to get to number one," Trump said.
"It has been a long road to get there."
He built up a 7-1 lead by the interval against Ebdon, whose only frame was secured by the only century of the match, a 106 break in the fourth frame.
And with Ebdon missing too many balls throughout the match, Trump had little trouble wrapping up his emphatic win.
"I played well in the first session today and was able to build a good lead and save some energy," Trump said on worldsnooker.com.
Seven breaks above 50 from Trump did the damage, and although his best run was one of 68 it was an impressive display from a player who now has the title and a winner's cheque for £125,000 in his sights.
Trump handled 42-year-old Ebdon smartly, and afterwards questioned his fellow Englishman's tactics.
"Peter didn't play his natural game. At the start of the match he was trying to put me off and put me out of my rhythm," Trump said.
"I told myself before the match to stay patient and wait for my chances. In the end he bogged himself down for the first couple of frames.
"Then he made a century in reasonable time. When he plays his normal game instead of trying to slow people down he's a better player."
Ebdon had briefly threatened a fightback at the start of the second session, but from a frame-winning opportunity he missed a regulation red and Trump cleared up to move a frame away.
And he effectively sealed his place in the final with a run to 63. Ebdon, needing four snookers, played on, but his hopes were shot, and when Trump sank another red he had little option but to concede.
Now one of two former world champions stand in his way, but Trump believes he is playing well enough to take down either Robertson or Murphy.
"It will be tough either way in the final. I've got a better record against Shaun and it might be a more free-flowing game against him," Trump said.
"The way I feel, I fancy beating both of them."