Judd Trump pulled off a convincing victory in the final of the Masters against Ronnie O’Sullivan. The match was expected to be closely fought between two of the biggest snooker players however Trump played magnificently in the first session creating a lead that was too much for the seven-time champion O’Sullivan.
Trump had not won a Triple Crown (World Championships, UK Championship, and the Masters) event in eight years since the UK Championships in 2011, but his performance would have you believe it was only a few months. He took a commanding 4-0 lead in the first session, with O’Sullivan picking up just 45 points.
The 43-year-old O’Sullivan managed to take the next frame but could not get any more of a foothold in the session and it ended 7-1 to Trump. With the match a ‘best of 19 frames’ format, O’Sullivan would need to achieve a 9-2 or better scoreline in the evening session to win.
Whilst this may seem an insurmountable task, it has been seen in a Masters final before. Back in 1991 the defending champion Stephen Hendry came up against Mike Hallett and was expected to seal a quick and simple victory. Hendry, to the surprise of everyone except perhaps Hallet, went down 7-0, then 8-2.
With this iteration of the tournament a ‘best of 17 frames’ format, Hallet needed just one more frame to take his first Triple Crown title. Hendry proved to be far from beaten though and, in what has been called one of the greatest finals in snooker history, he won 7 straight frames to successfully defend his Masters title. Hallett later said, “it took me about six months to get over it, I was totally crushed.”
Sadly, for O’Sullivan and the audience watching, there wasn’t a legendary comeback like Hendry’s. Despite O’Sullivan getting two century performances getting three frames back, he ultimately lost to Trump 10-4. Trump wins £200,000 for his victory and receives the Paul Hunter Trophy.
After the match, Trump said: “I have waited a long time for this. It has been seven or eight years since I last won a big one. You are always surprised when you have a lead against Ronnie at any point. He looked sharp tonight. I had to be at my best to just get to 3-3 in the last session.”
“I was getting sick of losing and watching other players winning all the titles on TV,” said Trump. “The likes of Mark Selby consistently staying at world number one, Mark Williams coming back to form and winning the World Championship and obviously Ronnie O’Sullivan.
“This is easily the biggest event I have won now. I used to play all-out attack and it worked now and again but this week I did not play brilliantly apart from against O’Sullivan. I am very pleased with how I dug in and showed patience.
“It has been a long time since I won a massive event and it has taken a lot of hard work and sacrifice. The rewards have paid off for the practice I have done over the last four or five months. Hopefully it is a major turning point in my career now and I can kick on.”
With the next Triple Crown event coming in April with the World Championships, the result of this final seems to have changed a few people’s minds about who could win. Six-time world champion Steve Davis said: “It’s put the cat among the pigeons for the World Championship because all of a sudden he is a credible winner. He plays a modern-day game.”
“It’s no-compromise snooker. He doesn’t shirk up his responsibilities on the table. He can play safe, he knows how to mix it up, but he’s happiest among the balls the same as O’Sullivan is. Some of the modern players coming through, they’re changing the equation for what are the right and wrong shots.”