Judd Trump has been the man of the season so far (Picture: VCG)
Judd Trump is loving having ultimate belief and confidence back in his game, but feels he got too much of a hard time for his ‘bad spell’ which was an awful long way from disastrous.
The 34-year-old is the man of the season so far, winning three tournaments on the spin in October as he lifted the trophies at the English Open, Wuhan Open and Northern Ireland Open.
The English was his first ranking title since March 2022, so to reel off two more immediately afterwards was some achievement, as he became just the fifth player ever to win three on the spin.
His ranking title tally is up to 26 now, so he’s done near enough everything in the game, but this goes down as one of his greatest achievements.
‘It’s got to be up there with one of the best things I’ve done in my career,’ Trump told Metro.co.uk. ‘I’ve always had a really good record of winning an event and then playing really well again the second week. When I find form I’m generally someone who can carry it on for a little bit. I think people in snooker know that after I’ve won a tournament I’m at my most dangerous. I’m definitely a confidence player.
‘The one in China I kind of breezed through the tournament so it was a little bit different, it was never in danger, but the third tournament, Noppon [Saengkham] was the real hard one and I had to come back in a couple. To win three in a row, when it hadn’t been done for so long and so many of the greats haven’t done it makes it a little bit more special.’
This level of success is nothing new for Trump as he set the record of six ranking titles in a season in 2019/20, and that number is in his sights again as he feels ‘very, very similar’ to how he felt four years ago.
‘The belief is definitely back,’ he said. ‘I feel that every time I get left in I’m going to clear up. Even just looking at the table from the chair, I feel like I’ll clear up every time. You start oozing confidence, your opponent can tell that and they seem to make more mistakes, missing that crucial ball to get over the line and 9 times out of 10 I’ll step in and clear up. Especially in deciders, I feel like I can do it every time.
‘I’ve not really had that feeling for a while. I’ve had it in certain tournaments where I feel it’s coming back, but this is a sustained period.’
Trump won the Northern Ireland Open for a fourth time last month (Picture: Getty Images)
Trump really hit the heights from the back end of 2018 to early 2021, during which time he picked up an incredible 14 rankings titles, including the World Championship and a Masters title on top.
After that immense success there was always going to be a dip and both the 2021/22 and 22/23 seasons were quieter, but they were not without highlights.
A Crucible final, another Masters title, a triumph in Turkey and at the Champion of Champions all came along and Trump thinks the talk of his demise was greatly exaggerated.
‘I did lose some of the belief,’ he said. ‘I felt at times I got back to somewhere near my best, but before I was so consistent for the whole season it was a bit ridiculous really.
‘I did that for two or three years, with very few bad performances, it’s a level that’s very hard to replicate. But then it wasn’t really a bad season last time. My bad, compared to even Ronnie’s bad, is not that bad. Ronnie hasn’t won a ranking event since the 2022 World Championship. I still won the Masters, the Grand Prix final, Champion of Champions final last season. Compare that to what Neil [Robertson] is doing now, my game even in the “bad bit” was in a different league. How bad really was I? I don’t think it was that bad.
Trump won the Masters in January without hitting top form (Picture: Getty Images)
‘I don’t know why it was made out I was struggling. I did feel like people could have given me a break because I just wasn’t playing that bad. Making finals, making 147s. It’s a bit exaggerated. I still get it now. Even if I win a tournament it’s just like, “well he’ll never be as good as Ronnie.” It’s all anyone can come up with nowadays.
‘In terms of major titles, it’s always compared to people miles older than me . I think it’s always a bit skewed if I’m compared to people 7 or 14 years older than me.
‘I’ve been in the Masters final twice and the World final twice in the last five years. UK final I probably should have won against Neil [in 2020], the other one I lost 10-9 against Ronnie [in 2014]. So I’ve won four majors, but I’m not a mile off from winning 6 or 7 already.
‘I definitely feel that people don’t get credit for finals. It’s so easily forgotten. Even the people I’ve played in my finals I think are more difficult than most people have faced. Ronnie and [John] Higgins in World finals, Ronnie and Neil both 10-9 in UK finals, Ronnie and [Mark] Williams I’ve beat in Masters finals, Higgins in the Worlds so it’s not like I’ve had it easy.’
Trump surged to his only world title win so far in 2019, something Luca Brecel did this year in similarly blistering style at the Crucible.
While the Ace has been in sparkling form since May, the Belgian Bullet has struggled to find his best stuff and Trump had some advice for the world champ who famously said he scrapped practice on his way to the biggest prize in the sport.
‘I think he’s done probably the opposite to what I do,’ said Judd of Luca. ‘I wanted to get back and practice straight away and prove that it wasn’t a fluke. I know no World Championship win is a fluke but I felt I had a lot more to prove then. He seems to have done the opposite and think that he’s proved everything when he hasn’t really, for me.
‘He’s obviously got the talent but I think he’s proving to himself that you might get away with not practicing once, but you’re not going to get away with it every single time. It’s very easy to lose your form in this game and very hard to regain it. He needs to knuckle down, put the work in and try and get back to where he was.’
Luca Brecel is hoping to recapture the form that won him the World Championship in May (Picture: Getty Images)
Trump’s recent success has come in a remarkably short space of time with the packed schedule meaning his three titles all came within a month as he jetted from Brentwood to Wuhan to Belfast.
Plenty of players complained about the back-to-back nature of the events thousands of miles apart, but while Trump fully agrees with those sentiments he says he has learned not tobother complaining about it.
‘Obviously it’s not ideal with what has happened, having to go from one tournament to another immediately,’ he said. ‘But I always think that you can moan but nobody cares, nobody actually cares. You can moan as much as you want but if you lose, nobody cares about you, so you’re just moaning to yourself.
‘I do want things changed and I hope that just because I’ve won back-to-back events doesn’t justify that it’s acceptable. I think there should always be a gap of at least a couple of days in between tournaments when you’re flying round the world.
‘Having that many tournaments is beneficial, everyone wants more tournaments but everyone wants a fair crack in every tournament. You shouldn’t have a better chance in one by losing early in the previous one.
‘I think it’s something that needs to be adjusted over the next season or two and I hope they don’t stick tournaments on back-to-back again as if they’re doing us a favour. I kind of feel that’s how they look at it, like they’re doing us a favour by putting tournaments on back-to-back. But I think the standard would be a lot better if players had a day or two off to recover and go again.’
Trump goes again on Thursday as he starts his Champion of Champions campaign against women’s world champion Baipat Siripaporn with the potential of meeting Shaun Murphy in the group final later that evening if the Magician beats Gary Wilson.
Murphy has been embarking on an experiment this season, with three cues now in his arsenal, which he believes will help him perform better in different conditions as he switches between them.
The experiment has not borne too much fruit yet and Trump is not sure it will last much longer.
‘It’s not gone to plan for him so far,’ said Trump. ‘There’s a reason why no one else has ever done it. You’ve tried a load of cues out and found the one you like the most, there is no real second or third place. You’ve got the best cue. I don’t think it’s going to last long. He wanted to try it out and I think he’ll quickly realise it doesn’t work and away it goes.
‘I don’t really know if he’s doing it for the right or wrong reasons. Does he genuinely believe you need a second or third cue or is he doing it trying to grab headlines and that kind of thing? I’d be very surprised if any other top player agreed with him and his reasoning behind it. It’s so hard to adjust to a different cue. For me, I don’t think it will last too long.’
For more stories like this, check our sport page.
‘You can moan but nobody cares, nobody actually cares.’