Judd Trump’s return to Bristol late last year has made this week’s Welsh Open feel like a home event for the world number one – and he is determined to mark it with yet another trophy, writes Paul Martin.
The 31-year-old moved back to the city of his birth in December, the same month which saw him add the World Grand Prix and German Masters titles to the English and Northern Ireland Opens he won earlier in the season.
His red-hot form may lead to an assumption the Juddernaut was more than happy in Milton Keynes, where all this season’s events have been played until this week, but the Bristolian is enjoying the change of scene just across the Severn Bridge.
“This is a very local one for me, only 25 minutes from home - I’m probably closer than a lot of the Welsh boys,” said Trump after beating 17-year-old Chinese prospect Zhao Jianbo 4-2 in the first round.
— Eurosport UK (@Eurosport_UK) February 15, 2021
“Before, the Masters was my home event and now it’s this one. When you are so close to the tournament, you automatically feel at home in that event.
“Celtic Manor has a lot of history behind it and you can tell on the drive in that it’s a nice place to be. All the players are happy to see some new scenery.”
Trump is hoping the switch in venue for the tournament, which had been held in Cardiff since 2015 and has never before been staged at Celtic Manor, will lead to an upturn in his own fortunes when it comes to playing across the border.
The Bristolian has not won the Welsh Open, coming closest in 2017 when he was edged out 9-8 by Stuart Bingham, and was knocked out in the last eight by eventual winner Shaun Murphy last year.
He received a scare in his opening fixture this time around as Zhao went 2-1 up either side of a trademark break of 117.
But three consecutive half-century breaks got Trump out of trouble and he will now take on another Chinese talent, 18-year-old Si Jiahui, in the second round.
How many centuries will I finish my career with? 👀 pic.twitter.com/00g6AaNmWE
— Judd Trump (@judd147t) February 10, 2021
“It was a bit of a struggle at the start but I managed to get going in the end,” he said. “It was quite a tough game so I’m pleased to get through.
“Conditions weren’t amazing out there, which made it tough for both of us, and there were quite a few mistakes.
“He’ll be quite disappointed as he missed a good chance to go 3-3 and I managed to clear up.
“He (Zhao) plays a much more mature game than his years. I’m sure he’ll improve a lot over the next couple of years. It’s easy to forget how young the players coming through are – he’s got a lot of potential.
“It wasn’t pretty but I’m happy to get through, as these early rounds are always tricky. It’s not really until you get to the last 16 or last eight you really feel part of the tournament.
“My results here (at the Welsh Open) haven’t been that great, either side of losing a close final.
“Maybe I put too much expectation on myself playing here but hopefully I can turn that around.”
Watch the Welsh Open live on Eurosport and Eurosport app.