Judd Trump was made to dip deep before seeing off Mark Allen 6-5 in the first round of the Masters.
In his first Masters appearance in two years, after missing last term’s event on account of coronavirus, Trump hit three centuries and an 88 in a high-quality clash.
Allen arrived at the Alexandra Palace with an excellent record against Trump and he threatened to derail the bookmakers’ favourite for the title.
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But Trump responded when needed, notably in the decider, to set up a meeting with either Kyren Wilson or Stuart Bingham in the last eight.
It proved to be a cagey opening to the contest, but a fine safety from Trump drew an error from Allen - and the world No. 2 cashed in impressively with the 827th ton of his career.
Allen had been left largely cold in the first frame, so it is to his credit that he pounced on a missed red from Trump to stroke in a break of 92 to level the contest.
One-kill snooker continued in the third, with Phil Studd describing it as a “scoring slugfest” as Trump rolled in a brilliant 101 to move back in front.
After a barrage of breaks, the final frame before the interval turned scrappy. Allen got ahead and won a series of safety exchanges to secure the fourth to draw level once again.
Despite hitting two tons and producing some impressive snooker, Trump was on the practice table at the interval. It was likely only to keep his cue arm loose, as there were no real issues with his game, and he came out after the break with a run of 88 to move back in front.

'This is incredible drama' - Trump wins crucial eighth frame against Allen

For the third time in the contest, Allen hit back to level - with a nuggety break of 65 proving enough to take the sixth.
The seventh was the second scrappy affair of the match. Allen got himself in front and was able to control what was the longest frame of the contest. There was drama, with Trump asking referee Desislava Bozhilova to check for a foul on himself, and Allen held his nerve to move ahead for the first time in the contest.
If the seventh frame had drama, it was a case of frame eight saying 'hold my beer'. After playing rock-solid snooker, Trump was under pressure and began to miss.
A long red into the bottom left stayed above ground and Allen cashed in with a break of 54. Allen got to the stage where Trump required a snooker, and he had a red along the top rail to secure the frame. It did not drop, and Trump eked out the snooker he required. He was still a big second favourite to win the frame but it turned in his favour when Allen went in-off. Trump potted a tough red and set about knocking in the colours. He fell terribly on the pink, but produced a stunning pot into the green pocket. The black dropped one shot later, prompting a punch of the air from Trump as he drew level.
After being on the ropes a matter of minutes earlier, Trump reasserted his authority with a brilliant 135, the highest of the tournament so far to move within one frame of victory.

Trump hits highest break of Masters so far with 135 break against Allen

In a match high on quality and drama, it was fitting Allen was able to dig deep and win the 10th to force a decider.
Allen got his chance in the decider via an outlandish fluke. The Northern Irishman went for a long red to the bottom left, but it wriggled at pace and flew across the rail before dropping in the bottom right. He did not cash in and ran out of position - questioned the referee’s spotting of the black - and fouled a red one shot later.
A second chance came Allen’s way but a red to the bottom left did not drop and Trump got his opportunity. The table was not easy but the 2019 champion nervelessly set about what proved a match-winning break of 62.
Allen will go away reflecting on the chances he passed up, but he was involved in a contest of the highest order and pushed Trump to the limit.
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