Judd Trump Triumphs Over Higgins in BetVictor English Open Semi-Finals

In a stunning turn of events, Judd Trump orchestrated a remarkable comeback, overcoming a 5-2 deficit to defeat John Higgins 6-5 during the semi-finals of the BetVictor English Open. This victory kept him on track to secure his first ranking title in 19 months.

Higgins had a chance to seal the match at 6-2, but a critical lapse in positional play from black to yellow in the eighth frame led to a missed difficult pot. This proved to be the turning point, as he couldn’t score another point, watching Trump display a series of outstanding breaks from the sidelines. Higgins later confessed that he felt overwhelmed by Trump’s exceptional performance in the final stages.

Trump now advances to the final on Sunday at the Brentwood Centre, where he will face either Zhang Anda or Liu Hongyu. The victor will claim £80,000 and the prestigious Steve Davis Trophy. Bristol’s 34-year-old Trump, in his 39th ranking final appearance, is striving for his 24th title, putting him one ahead of Neil Robertson and one behind Mark Williams on the all-time list.

The 2019 World Champion has not secured a ranking title since the Turkish Masters in March 2022, despite winning the Masters, snooker’s prominent invitation event, in January of the same year. Trump had a runner-up finish to Barry Hawkins at the BetVictor European Masters in Germany in August and has high aspirations to clinch the title this time.

The clashes between Higgins and Trump have consistently produced classic matches, notably their memorable Crucible finals in 2011 and 2019, along with their recent semi-final in Germany two months prior, where England’s Trump came from 4-2 down to triumph 6-5. Today’s battle was yet another intense encounter to add to their rivalry.

Scotland’s 48-year-old Higgins began strongly with a break of 124. Although Trump managed to equalize in frame two, Higgins dominated the next two frames, leading 3-1 at the interval with impressive breaks of 53 and 137.

Frame five came down to the last red, and Trump, trailing by 34 points, showcased an excellent long pot, but then narrowly missed a tricky black, conceding the frame and falling behind 4-1. Higgins seemed set for 5-1 until an unexpected positional error left him trailing 42-59. Trump managed to escape a snooker on the brown and fluked the brown to a baulk pocket, then followed it with a remarkable long blue to narrow the gap to 4-2.

A break of 77 put Higgins three frames up with four remaining. The pivotal moment came in frame eight when Higgins, trailing 46-55, missed a challenging thin cut to the far baulk corner. Trump capitalized on this opportunity, making a magnificent yellow-to-pink clearance, revitalizing his hopes and scoring impressive breaks of 88 and 111 to level the match at 5-5. In the decider, a spectacular long red set Trump up for a run of 68, sealing the victory as Higgins missed a tough long red that could have allowed him to mount a comeback.

“John put me under a lot of pressure early on, and he didn’t look like missing,” said Trump. “He gave me a lifeline to go 5-3, and I felt I was still in it. I just went for everything, and they went in. It helps when you have another tournament the next week because if you lose, you know you have another match in two or three days. Early in the game, I was tense and trying too hard, then from 5-2, I changed my mindset and relaxed. At 5-4, I went to the toilet, and when I came back, the reaction was so loud; that inspired me to put on a show for them. That’s when I play my best.

“John and I have had so many great games, and it’s often the toss of a coin in the end. Him, Mark Williams, and Ronnie O’Sullivan are all idols of mine. At the end of my career, I just hope I can be up there with them.

“If I play (19-year-old) Liu Hongyu tomorrow, I will feel like an old man! I feel that with a lot of players now; I have been around for a long time. I try to remember what it was like to be that age and how much I enjoyed it. It felt like it would go on forever. As you get older, you put more expectation on yourself, and you are desperate to win, so you forget to have fun out there. When I’m having fun, I play my best. Whoever wins tonight is going to be very excited about playing in their first final, so I need to remember that feeling too.”

Higgins, playing in his 82nd ranking event semi-final, saw his hopes of a 32nd title dashed. He reflected, telling Eurosport: “I was hit by a truck. Judd started smashing them in. I had the chance at 5-2, I didn’t play a great positional shot to get to the yellow, then I cued across it. I tried to play it positive and come off two cushions for the green, but I butchered it. From there, I didn’t get a sniff because Judd started flying. You can only take your hat off to him; great champions can do that to you.”

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