Northern Ireland Open snooker 2020 – Judd Trump halts Ronnie O’Sullivan comeback to claim hat-trick
For the third time in succession, Judd Trump edged Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-7 in the Northern Ireland Open final. O’Sullivan briefly threatened a comeback, winning four frames out of five at one stage, but Trump delivered in the 16th frame to wrap up victory. He is the first player to win a ranking event three years in a row since Stephen Hendry in 1996.
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But it appeared a masterstroke as 7-3 became 7-5 before the mid-session interval, O’Sullivan finishing with a timely 63.
Trump returned from the stoppage with renewed vigour and duly posted a break of 115 – which could have been higher but for a botched cue ball off the black with the colours remaining – to restore a three-frame lead.
But O’Sullivan wasn’t finished. He flirted with a century of his own as a break of 93 extended the match, before getting amongst the balls at 8-6 by arrowing a red into the right-middle pocket. He banked a break of 74 and suddenly there was just one frame in it.
However, Trump is familiar with winning this event 9-7, and against this opponent too, and after an early nervous miss, he returned to the table to clean up with a tidy knock to the final pink.
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AFTERNOON SESSION REPORT
Trump leads world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan 5-3 at the end of a tense afternoon session.
The defending champion has been playing some fine snooker in the highly-anticipated clash between two greats of the sport.
The session began with a poor safety from O'Sullivan, gifting Trump the opportunity to jab in a long blue into the yellow pocket. The reigning champion then pocketed the pink to secure a cagey first frame.
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A bizarre second frame saw O'Sullivan elect to give Trump a second run at swerving the cue ball around the black to pot a red hanging over the pocket, with the two-time defending champion obliging, before the Rocket played on despite needing six snookers.
With the session seemingly slipping away, O'Sullivan produced a sensational fluke in the third which finally got the 44-year-old on the scoreboard. He missed a green to the bottom left by a mile, but watched it go off four cushions and then drop into the left middle before he added the brown, and a difficult cut on a blue.
Trump took a 3-1 lead with a break of 69 before returning after the interval to pocket a crucial pink and deepen O'Sullivan's problems in the fifth.
O'Sullivan desperately needed the sixth and he dug deep as he pocketed a brilliant red to keep him within touching distance, but Trump restored his three-frame advantage in style with a clinical break of 128.
The Rocket finished up by reducing the arrears to two with a 137 clearance - his sixth century of the tournament and a much-needed break heading into Sunday's evening session.