World Snooker 2011: Trump confident of Robertson shock

By Saj ChowdhuryBBC Sport
World Snooker Championship on the BBC

Judd Trump believes 2010 winner Neil Robertson will claim a "big scalp" if he beats him in the first round of the World Snooker Championship.

Trump, 21, is in confident mood ahead of Saturday's Crucible opener having defeated Mark Selby to win his first ranking event - the China Open.

"It'll now be a big scalp for Neil if he beat me," Trump told the BBC Sport.

Ronnie O'Sullivan begins against Dominic Dale while another former winner John Higgins faces Stephen Lee.

Three-time champion O'Sullivan's involvement in this year's tournament was in doubt after it was revealed that he called World Snooker on Thursday 7 April to state that he would be withdrawing from the event only to notify the governing body a day later to tell them he had changed his mind.

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The 35-year-old then announced that he would be working with psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters, who was part of the successful Great Britain cycling squad at the 2008 Olympics, in order to "help him enjoy snooker again"external-link.

The former number one, who has not won an official snooker match since clinching the Premier League title last November and has slipped to 10 in the world, begins his campaign on Monday against Welshman Dale.

"It's going to tough but I'm playing Ronnie at a good time. He hasn't done a lot the last six months," said 39-year-old world number 32 Dale.

"If I play at my best I really do feel I can beat him. Like with any top play you have got to put them under pressure."

Current number one Higgins will have to wait until Wednesday to get his tournament under way when he faces Trowbridge's world number 18 Lee.

Scotland's Higgins, who has also landed the Crucible title on three occasions, won the UK Championship and Welsh Open this season after returning from suspension for bringing the game into disrepute.

The newspaper story of the scandal involving Higgins broke towards the end of the 2010 World Championship tournament and World Snooker recently sent a letter to each of the 32 players taking part in the 2011 event warning them that they face a lifetime ban if they are involved in a similar incident.

"I think as a person I'm definitely stronger for what I've been through," Higgins, who also lost his father to cancer this year, told BBC Scotland.

"It's given me a little more appetite or determination. I'm just trying to do my best."

Other first-round highlights include the match between seven-time winner Stephen Hendry and former semi-finalist Joe Perry, the all-Welsh clash between two-time champion Mark Williams and Ryan Day and former finalist Mark Selby's clash against Crucible debutant Jimmy Robertson.

But on the first day of 17, most eyes will be on the battle between world number 14 Trump of Bristol and Australia's world number five Roberston.

"This isn't the biggest game of my life, the China Open final was bigger," added the English youngster.

He defeated Selby 10-8 for his maiden ranking win although many believed the success was a long time coming for a player who won the World Under-21 Championship at the age of 14.

However, Trump explained that his progress up the rankings was never going to be as easy as people expected it to be.

"I knew I wasn't going to fly thorugh the system," said the Bristolian.

"This year playing in more tournaments and it's speeded up my path up the rankings. My family have always told me that I'm good enough and I believe in myself.

"I try not to set myself any career goals, I just want to get on with it. Saying that, I would like to win a few world championships."

Current title holder Robertson is fully aware of Trump's talents and believes it will be an exciting contest.

"He's a talented player who has carried a weight of expectation, but now he's won his first ranking event. Maybe that takes pressure away from me because people will expect him to perform well," he told BBC Sport.

"He's very attacking-minded. It's going to be an open game."

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