UK Championship finalist Judd Trump suffered an early exit at the Dafabet Masters as he lost 6-4 to Stephen Maguire in the opening round at Alexandra Palace.
Trump has been in fine form in recent weeks, runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan at both the Champion of Champions and UK Championship, but was unable to improve on a Masters record which shows just one semi-final in five appearances. Maguire also impressed before Christmas, reaching the UK semi-finals and winning the Lisbon Open. And the Glaswegian is now through to face Shaun Murphy on Friday with the chance to reach the semis of the Masters for the fifth time.
Bristol’s Trump looked the stronger player in the early stages as a 68 clearance gave him the first frame, and runs of 41 and 39 put him 2-0 up. The match hinged on the third frame as Trump led by 19 points on the blue, but missed a long pot which would have put him 3-0 ahead. Maguire laid an excellent snooker to gain the penalty points he needed, and went on to pot blue, pink and black to pull one frame back.
The Scot kept his momentum going by winning the next three with top breaks of 96 and 82 to go 4-2 ahead. Trump fought back with 109 and 71 to level at 4-4.
Frame nine came down to a tactical battle and Maguire came out on top, sealing it by potting the last red and adding the brown. And when Trump missed a black off its spot early in the next, Maguire seized his chance with 64 to seal victory.
Maguire said: “The third frame changed the match because if he had gone 3-0 that would have been tough to come back from. The balls punished him after that. At the time I was just hoping to be 3-1 down at the interval. So to nick that frame made me feel as if I was part of the match, and I could see Judd was hurting. It was important for me to go 2-2 and then he had 20 minutes to think about it at the interval. It was the difference between winning and losing in the end. It’s amazing how crazy the game is because that could have been a best of 19 and that one frame could still have changed the match.
“It’s nice to get revenge (for the UK Championship) but I’m sure we will play each other a few more times this season. You don’t want to lose to the same boy a lot because you can get into a rut.
“The first round matches are hard here. I’ve been playing well in practice for the past few days and then I went out today and the table felt about three feet longer. I’m part of the tournament now and I’ve got a couple of days to prepare for my next match.”
Trump said: “I’ve got no one to blame but myself because I was in first in nearly every frame but I didn’t take my chances. After the third frame the luck changed. I never felt comfortable today, even when I got back to 4-4. I felt a bit flat and that’s bound to happen now and then as it’s a long season. Stephen is a top player but I’m disappointed because I threw it away.”