Trump to build on solid start
Our Simon Crawford thinks Judd Trump can build on a promising start to the season and win the Shanghai Masters.
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The signs are good that the penny is finally starting to drop for precocious talent Judd Trump.
Still only 25 but now nine years a professional, the Bristol-born cueman is still to fulfil the potential that snooker fans have only so far been treated to in fleeting bursts.
On his day he is a match for anyone, but since becoming world number one for the first time in November 2012, after winning the inaugural International Championship, his game has been dogged by inconsistency.
Trump is perhaps his own worst enemy, with a lack of focus or dip in concentration resulting in him being beaten by players who quite simply should not be able to hold a cue to him.
It's fine for people to keep saying how much natural talent a player may have, but if he does not have the attributes that allow him to unleash it then it will simply end up being a waste of talent.
I'm not saying that Trump has been awful in the past couple of years, but he has massively under-acheived and players such as Mark Selby and Neil Robertson have left him well behind.
However, Trump is without doubt a player who can be challenging at the very top of the game - but only if he wants to.
Last season was poor by his standards as he reached just one major final - the German Masters - and dropped down the world rankings from three to six.
His play was Jekyll and Hyde, brilliant in one frame but awful in the next.
My theory is that we are now going to see a more mature Trump and that could spell real danger for his rivals.
He has worked studiously on his safety game and combined with explosive potting and exceptional cue power, you would appear to have the perfect all-round player.
It just remains to be seen whether the 'Juddernaut' can can get himself in the zone mentally. If he can then surely he will add to his four ranking titles.
This season was not the best of starts for Trump as he was beaten 5-0 by Stephen Maguire in the third round of the Wuxi Classic, but he then laid down a marker by winning the Australian Goldfields Open.
It was his first ranking triumph for 20 months, but for me more importantly he beat in-form home favourite Neil Robertson to achieve it and that took some doing.
He then reached the final of the Paul Hunter Classic in Germany last month, losing 4-2 to Mark Allen, so all signs are that Trump and his game are in a good place at the moment.
The tour moves to China and the Shangahi Masters next week and I think Trump will take some stopping.
His track record in the event is not good to be fair, having been a finalist in 2012 (losing to John Higgins) but exiting in the first round on four other occasions.
However, he is a man in form and I think that counts for a lot in snooker - especially this early in the season.
The layers have predictably made Ronnie O'Sullivan a strong favourite with 11/4 (Boylesports and Paddy Power ) the best you will get on him, with world champion Mark Selby (7/1 general), Neil Robertson (15/2 Boylesports and sportingbet) and home favourite Ding Junhui (10/1 sportingbet) next in the betting.
Trump is set to meet O'Sullivan in the quarter-finals, but this will be the Rocket's first appearance in Shanghai for three years after his well-documented problems with long-distance travel.
This is certainly one of the tournaments when you can look to take on O'Sullivan with some confidence as it has been some time since he produced his best snooker overseas.
I think Trump is overpriced at a stand-out 14/1 with sportingbet. If he is in the zone then it is an outstanding price for a player who can beat anyone in the world on his day.
- Preview posted at 1035 BST on 04/09/2014