Judd ready for title defence
Judd Trump is determined to douse the "fire in the eyes" of his rivals when he returns to York to defend the williamhill.com UK Championship title.
- Related Content
A year on from beating Mark Allen in a terrific final, Trump returns as snooker's new world number one and, in the absence of Ronnie O'Sullivan, its biggest star at the box office.
He has the self-confidence you would expect of a 23-year-old with a bulging bank balance, a growing public profile, a sports car and three major titles already.
But the Bristolian's hunger for trophies has not been satisfied, and he is optimistic that there could be cause for celebration at the end of the nine-day York tournament.
At the same time, he appreciates his has suddenly become the most prized scalp in snooker.
"You find that everyone wants to beat you, and as number one now I think a lot of players want to spoil the party," Trump told Press Association Sport.
"A lot of players are going to be prepared and practising hard to beat me, so I've got to stay in front and practise just as hard if not harder than them.
"They've got that fire in their eyes when they play me. It is tough.
"Obviously people like John Higgins are always very tough to beat, but I feel confident of beating any player on the circuit really, the way I'm playing.
"I know there are going to be bad days, but you've got to get through those bad days and try to stay in the tournament the best you can, try not to get frustrated."
It is worth remembering how quickly Trump, whose tournament starts on Sunday with a match against Walsall-based qualifier Mark Joyce, has shot up the rankings.
His profile was that of a player blessed with huge potential, which for several seasons had gone largely unfulfilled, until he won the China Open in early April last year.
Since then he has reached a World Championship final, added the UK title, and at the start of this month triumphed at the big-money International Championship in China, flying home with a cheque for £125,000.
To make a successful defence of the UK title would provide more credibility to the increasingly popular theory that Trump can dominate snooker for many years.
"It's a different feeling. I've only ever had to defend one title, in China, and I went out in the second round there," Trump said.
"Winning in York last year was the real breakthrough, to win in England with my family there, and for it to be on BBC it was nice.
"That was the real big step so far. I feel I've improved and improved and my game is 10-20% better than it was this time last year."