Judd Trump is through to the final of the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open after defeating world number 77 Eden Sharav 6-3 in Belfast.
Trump, who has eight ranking titles to his name, will now be hoping to end his silverware drought which extends back to the 2017 European Masters, where he defeated Stuart Bingham 9-7 to take home the title.
To do so he will have to come out on top in what is set to be a blockbuster clash with five-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, who has won the last three meetings between the pair. They will do battle over the best of 17 frames for the £70,000 top prize.
Despite being a difficult defeat for Sharav, he goes away with the consolation of £20,000 and having achieved the best ranking run of his career so far. Previously he had never been beyond the last 16 stage.
The Ace in the Pack came flying out of the traps this evening, firing in breaks of 54, 107 and 68 as he moved into an early 3-0 advantage. At that point Sharav looked to be on the ropes, but he made an important clearance of 65 before the mid-session to go into the break 3-1 down.
That didn’t look to have done much to deter Trump when the players emerged. He compiled a sublime century run of 108 to move further ahead at 4-1. However, Sharav showed great character in what was the biggest match of his career so far, taking the next two frames to pull within one.
Trump wasn’t to be denied, claiming two on the bounce and composing a break of 97 in the process, to secure his place in the final against O’Sullivan.
“It was important to get off to a good start. He is a little bit slower than I am, so it could have gone a bit scrappy. I felt confident out there,” said Trump. “I think the fans here are very passionate. It could be a bit rowdy tomorrow and a good atmosphere. The table is playing lovely so hopefully we can live up the hype and produce some good snooker.
“It is nice going out there knowing that I am confident. I have played well all week and haven’t really put in any bad performances. I’ve been consistent and I have had that form for one or two months. I think it is more enjoyable going out and knowing you will play well. Hopefully tomorrow I can just play my game, not let the standards slip and make him work for it.”