World Championship 2019: Judd Trump targets maiden Crucible title

By Owen Phillips and Radio 5 live snooker reporter Jamie BroughtonBBC Sport
Judd Trump
Trump was a Crucible runner-up in 2011 and made the last four in 2013 and 2015
Betfred World Snooker Championship
Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 20 April-6 May
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC Two, Red Button, iPlayer, Connected TV, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app.

Toning down the famous "naughty snooker" has already proved a masterly move for Judd Trump as he chases a first World Championship title.

Maybe it is "steady snooker", the world number seven says with a knowing grin, as he modestly describes where his game is at prior to his 10th appearance at the sport's showpiece event.

"I am trying to be a lot more careful - and to not miss easy balls," Trump told BBC Sport.

That is the basic premise, but there is obviously a bit more to it.

Bracketing his own style as just steady is no doubt drastically underplaying things. But one of the game's most eye-catching talents has certainly embraced the need to mix and match a bit more.

The result has been the best and most productive season of his career.

Two ranking titles and a glorious Masters victory, stylishly sealed with a 10-4 demolition of Ronnie O'Sullivan in the final, have been rich reward for a fully focused 12 months.

Trump, the 2011 UK Championship winner, has now won two of snooker's prestigious Triple Crown events. It is just the world title that eludes him - for now.

"Maybe in the past I have not been mature enough to win it," said the 29-year-old, whose first-round match against qualifier Thepchaiya Un-Nooh starts at 14:30 BST on Tuesday.

"But now, judging by the results from the past couple of seasons, then it's hopefully my time. I am ready now."

Safety in mind

Driving the success has been that much-improved safety game, as well as a more measured approach to the attacking mindset which continues to make Trump one of the most popular players among snooker fans.

"This season the safety has maybe been the standout thing and has got me chances," Trump added.

"My long potting has improved again and with those two attributes I will always create chances."

They were chances he took in emphatic fashion in the raucous Alexandra Palace atmosphere to win the Masters in January.

The Bristolian said his Masters success was "definitely the highlight" of his career.

"It was the standout performance from the past four or five seasons," said Trump, the Crucible runner-up to John Higgins in a thrilling 2011 final.

"I played well in every single session and that was the most consistent I have ever played in a tournament.

"It's always good to beat Ronnie. It was especially pleasing to beat him in the manner I did. To win so comprehensively in such a big event is very rare and that put a little dent in his season.

"You have to put doubt in his mind because if he gets on top of you, he walks all over you."

O'Sullivan, in-form Neil Robertson and Trump are on most pundits' lists as potential Crucible champions this year.

Ten-time ranking event winner Trump has previously admitted he can be his own worst enemy but, largely thanks to having his younger brother Jack on tour with him, he has been mentally stronger.

"He has obviously helped me," Trump said. "You can see by the results this season. He has been a massive attribute in my corner.

"A couple of times I have come from behind and he is able to help me turn things around. He is very good. He stays positive and he knows what to say.

"I can get down on myself but he knows how to pick me up. He knows I am always in the match and just knows I need to be mentally there as well."

Triple Crown target

Completing snooker's treble by winning the World Championship would be "lifting a weight off the mind" of Trump.

He added: "I have been around long enough now so I know what it's all about.

"I know how hard it is going to be. It's mentally a lot tougher than any other tournament.

"You will have bad sessions in this one; you cannot just stroll through it. It's about having the right people in my corner to pull me out of that.

"I am a little bit happy not to have won one of the recent events. I could have built myself up too much, put myself under too much pressure thinking I have only got myself to beat.

"I am not the favourite. I need to go and enjoy myself.

"I play my best stuff when I am a little under the radar. It is very important not to try too hard because in the past I think I have done that."

Circumspect snooker does not quite have the same ring to it as "naughty snooker". But it could just deliver a Crucible crown.

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