Trump out to match O'Sullivan
Judd Trump has his sights set on matching Ronnie O'Sullivan's haul of four world titles.
The 23-year-old fired a warning to his green baize rivals by claiming he has reached number one in the world by playing to barely 70 per cent of his potential.
Trump begins the defence of his UK Championship title this weekend as the tournament in York gets under way.
And with O'Sullivan absent for the rest of the season, taking a break from snooker which could become permanent, the way has been cleared for a character such as the bullish Trump to dominate.
A successful defence of his UK title would underline Trump's present status as favourite to succeed O'Sullivan as world champion in May.
He has had three shots at triumphing in Sheffield so far, going closest in 2011 when as a qualifier he mowed down one big name after another to reach the final before losing out to John Higgins.
Trump has time on his side, and points to the fact O'Sullivan was 25 when he landed his first Crucible title in 2001.
"There's a lot of people saying, 'You've never won a World Championship', but you've got to look at Ronnie and see the talent he had and it proves how hard it is," Trump said.
"If Ronnie didn't win it until 25, I've still got two to three years to keep up with Ronnie.
"If I can win the World Championship over the next couple of years then hopefully I can take that confidence and get up to three or four world titles like he did.
"I feel like I've still got a little bit of improving to do.
"I'm showing 70-75 per cent of what I can produce. I'm a lot more consistent than I was and I don't have that many bad games, and if somebody does beat me they've got to play well.
"That's pleasing, and when I do play well I'm tough to beat.
"I feel like I'm learning new things, and when you get to play the likes of John Higgins you're bound to learn new things."
The UK Championship made a successful return to York's Barbican Centre last year, after four years in Telford, with large crowds and Trump and Mark Allen producing a terrific final.
The nine-day tournament offers Trump the chance to win back-to-back majors, having landed the International Championship in Chengdu at the start of November.
In a whirlwind 19-month period the Bristol potter has reached a Crucible final, landed three ranking titles, and gone from being a player in whom everyone saw potential to one who threatens to run away with all the major trophies.
Such progress should mean he is defined by his own achievements, but Trump accepts that whatever success they enjoy, he and his fellow players will inevitably be matched up to the mercurial O'Sullivan.
"Ronnie is a massive player and one of the greatest to play the game. Everyone looks up to Ronnie and everyone is compared to Ronnie," Trump said.
"Now that he's not playing, people have a chance to break through and prove themselves.
"There are tournaments where players can go out and make their name on TV. Ronnie will be missed, but it's a great opportunity for other players."