Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis and Ronnie O’Sullivan are all in Judd Trump’s sights after the world No.1 kept his hopes of a thrilling Northern Ireland Open threepeat alive, writes Will Jennings.
Trump toppled world No.25 Scott Donaldson 5-1 in Friday afternoon’s first quarter-final to reach the last four of a ranking event for the 44th time in his decorated baize career.
The result kept the 2019 king of the Crucible’s dream of a third consecutive Northern Ireland Open title burning as he bids to become the first player since Hendry to win the same event three years running.
Seven-time world champion Hendry scooped the UK Championship in 1994, 1995 and 1996 and the Juddernaut is hellbent on his own tilt at history under the Marshall Arena lights.
“It would be very special if I actually do it,” said the 31-year-old.
“When you look back at the greats, Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis and Ronnie O’Sullivan, when you look back at the events and the trophies you see a long list of names that are winning it, and years when they’re winning it in a row.
“It just shows their dominance. Obviously for me if you’re winning events two, three years in a row you’re stamping your authority on the game and showing your dominance.
“It’s just something where if I win the title then I’ll think about it and it’s an amazing achievement, but before then, it’s not something that’s going to add pressure to me or anything like that.
“It will be a tremendous achievement but I just want to win as many matches and titles as I can and compete in these big events.”
Trump struck a thrilling maximum 147 break in his second round win on Wednesday and followed that up with triumphs over Luca Brecel and Martin Gould to march into the last eight.
And there he made visits of 112, 86, 70 and 52 to floor Donaldson and book a semi-final date with either world No.67 David Grace or Chinese teenage sensation Yan Bingtao.
Trump has toppled O’Sullivan 9-7 in the last two Northern Ireland Open finals at the picturesque Waterfront Hall in Belfast.
The mouth-watering prospect of a third in a row remains on the cards and Trump, who watched the Rocket romp to a sixth World Championship title this summer, says he’d relish the prospect of another duel on the other side of the Irish Sea.
“It’s nice that Ronnie’s still in and I want to play him in another final,” he added.
“It would be amazing to end up playing him in another final again in the Northern Ireland. It’s been a special event for me and for some reason it brings out the best in me – even in Milton Keynes.
“It’s one that I don’t want to go out without a fight in and now, hopefully I’ve adapted to the table and I can go and make a quicker start to the next game.”