Royal London Watches Grand Prix 2008: O’Sullivan Trumped as Judd breaks new ground

It has been a dramatic Friday afternoon already as the tournament really gets going at the quarter-final stage. Click below to read what is going on in both matches…

Judd Trump 5-4 Ronnie O’Sullivan

19-year-old Judd Trump pulled off the win of his career this afternoon, defeating Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-4 in a match of high drama.

Having looked to be playing well against Marco Fu yesterday, O’Sullivan looked out of sorts from the start against Trump as it was the youngster from Bristol who had the first chance. Although he needed a second opportunity, he ultimately did enough to move into a 1-0 lead.

The second frame though was to be the first of many tight affairs that could have gone either way. Following a number of fouls from O’Sullivan, Judd found himself facing a frame ball red but to the dismay of Willie Thorne and John Parrott, elected to play a dangerous safety shot which left his opponent right in. Even this early it looked like it could be a huge turning point as it was a frame that Trump really should have won already. Crucially though, having messed up position from brown to blue, O’Sullivan gave him another chance and it was 2-0.

Then came the fightback however as although O’Sullivan was giving Judd chances, he was not quite able to take them and it was 2-2 at the interval. The defining shot in frame four was an attempt at the brown which really did not look like the right shot to take on and ultimately proved to be his downfall there.

With O’Sullivan taking the next frame convincingly to lead for the first time at 3-2 it looked like Judd had missed the boat and his best chance had gone, but then came an incredible frame six which ultimately proved to be the turning point in the match. Having led it 44-0, O’Sullivan broke down and allowed Judd to come back into it with some terrific potting. Then though, it looked as if Trump was going to throw away another frame as with O’Sullivan needing a snooker, he got one and Judd failed to swerve around the black, giving away seven penalty points. This gave O’Sullivan a great chance to move 4-2 ahead and into a decisive lead but remarkably, he played a relatively straightforward final black with his left arm and missed it. Immediately conceding the frame and being warned by the referee, things were back level at 3-3.

Judd was right back in it now and produced a couple of very nice breaks in the next frame to lead 4-3. Interestingly for a left-hander, he potted a great red with his right arm, showing that not just O’Sullivan can play with both right and left hands.

In frame eight however, as you might expect for a 19 year old, Judd started to look very nervous and failed to take advantage of three good chances to take the match. Although O’Sullivan was nowhere near his best, he managed to do just enough to send them into a decider.

The most important frame of Judd’s career so far, he had chance after chance but taking the scalp of O’Sullivan for a while looked like too daunting a prospect for him to actually make a reality. Eventually though on his ninth chance of the match, Judd managed to hold his nerve and secure a career best win, putting him into his first career semi-final.

Judd has been a player of some potential for a good while now but until this week has struggled to really bring his A-game to the TV stage. This win, avenging a 5-3 defeat at the Welsh Open recently should give him such a confidence boost though, and the encouraging thing is that he can clearly play much better. Today he showed that he has all the potting abilities needed to succeed, and encouragingly he played an aggressive game, always looking to get into the reds as soon as possible. Once he improves his safety game and his shot selection which will come with experience, he looks a certainty to make the top 16 sooner rather than later.

O’Sullivan in truth did not deserve to win though, his performance was sloppy, much like that against Liang Wenbo and mentally I don’t think he was quite there this week as Willie Thorne said at the start of the match in commentary. Still, the fact that he can come so close to ranking event semi-finals when playing well below his best tells you all you need to know about him at the moment.

Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-5 Judd Trump 4-63(40), 43-68, 107(41,66)-14, 77-62(51), 104(104)-0, 64(44)-58(33)(conceded), 0-67(47), 77(48)-16, 1-75

Ali Carter 5-3 Steve Davis

Ali Carter made it two wins in two days over BBC pundits as he overcame Steve Davis late this afternoon with a 5-3 win.

Unsurprisingly the match began with a lengthy safety exchange, with Steve ultimately emerging with the first clear chance. Although he could not take the frame at this visit, he only needed one more and took an early lead over this year’s world finalist.

Starting frame two with what is becoming Steve’s normal break-off shot, rolling into the reds off two cushions, Davis hoped to put Carter under pressure but unfortunately for him a terrible safety shot let Ali straight in. Not needing a second invitation, Carter put in a break of 90 to level things up before again winning a safety battle in the next frame to go into the lead for the first time.

Frame four was most notable for Carter’s excellent 28 break, made up of eight reds and colours which followed a missed pink by Davis that left the balls everywhere. Eventually this proved to be key and he moved into a 3-1 interval lead, which soon became 4-1 following the next.

What was to come next however was a mini-revival from Davis against an opponent who in the past has been known to lose a lead or two. Getting it back to 4-3 Steve was right back in the match, before Carter got the bit of luck that he needed to see him over the line. Following a fluked red on a safety shot, Ali made 99 to move into his second semi-final of the season.

Great win for Ali this as he looks to really establish himself in the top six of the rankings and lose the tag of being the highest ranked player without a ranking event title to his name. Looking increasingly confident on TV these days, he won’t be a player that anyone will particularly want to face tomorrow.

Steve meanwhile has still had a good week, though I imagine he will still be gutted about that Carter fluke. He has at least got some points on the board in advance of the Bahrain tournament that he will be forced to miss due to his Premier League commitments.

Ali Carter 5-3 Steve Davis 0-89(43,42), 90(90)-0, 79(30,33)-0, 78-25, 76-33, 41-70(66), 33-66, 99(99)-0