Snooker: Rising star desperate to trump rivals for top prize
Judd Trump, snooker's rising star, is desperate to be considered a genuine contender for this year's World Championships at the Crucible.
And on the evidence of his fine 10-8 first-round win against champion Neil Robertson on the opening weekend of snooker's biggest tournament, you'd be hard pushed to argue with the ambitious Bristol player.
Trump (21) showed plenty of bottle as he battled his way into the last-16 stage of the 17-day green baize marathon. And the world No 14 took exception after his win when Robertson said his young conqueror wasn't "mature enough" to land the £250,000 first prize.
"I'm not sure why he (Neil) said that. Why be in the tournament if you didn't think you could win it?" snapped Trump. "Who wants to make the semis? I wouldn't enter the tournament if I didn't think I couldn't win it. I've come into this tournament with high expectations. There's no reason why I can't go all the way."
Confidence indeed, but having won the China Open -- his first ranking title last month -- no wonder Trump is on the crest of a confidence wave.
Next up for Trump, already being dubbed the next Ronnie O'Sullivan, is a second-round match with Hong Kong's Marco Fu, a 2006 Crucible semi-finalist, or London-based professional Martin Gould, on Thursday.
Shaun Murphy, the 2005 world champion, came within a whisker of inflicting the first Crucible whitewash for 19 years as he thumped qualifier Marcus Campbell 10-1. The Manchester cueman led Campbell 9-0 in their first-round match, but his opponent won what proved to be the penultimate frame to prevent a whitewash.
Murphy claims he can be the player to end O'Sullivan's challenge -- unless Dominic Dale can deny him.
The 28-year-old is seeded to tackle O'Sullivan next, but Murphy suspects the three-time former champion could be vulnerable in his opener against Dale. That tussle gets under way today, with O'Sullivan heading into it on the back of four first-round defeats in major events.
O'Sullivan (35) also threatened to pull out of the World Championship 10 days ago, but reversed his decision 24 hours later. The possibility of facing snooker's greatest enigma excites Murphy, but the 2005 champion said: "I'm not sure it's a guarantee he's going to win his opening match. It's a long time since he won."