Judd Trump on not going mad, Rocket motivation and wanting to hear some trash talk

Judd Trump is enjoying himself again on the snooker table (Picture: Getty Images)

Judd Trump is feeling rested, confident and as pressure-free as is possible at the World Championship, saying he is yet to be ‘driven totally mad’ by snooker like some of his rivals.

The world number two has had a season that most can only dream of, winning five ranking titles, including three on the spin in the first half of the campaign.

The Ace has never really had a drought in terms of titles, but he did have a quiet couple of years by his high standards, but that arid spell is over and it has been raining trophies this season.

While the likes of Mark Selby and John Higgins have mused about their careers coming to an end recently, Trump is feeling good, somewhat free-rolling after such a good spell early in the season.

‘I think the confidence is back and a lot of the times I’ve enjoyed my snooker again,’ said the 34-year-old. ‘Any snooker player will tell you, it is tough after you lose to keep positive and everyone at some point seems to want to retire! I don’t think I’ve gone that far just yet, so I haven’t been driven totally mad.

‘I feel like if you’re able to win a tournament early in the season I feel like that’s a huge thing. For players that don’t it gets so tough, the tournaments seem to come thick and fast, you go from one to another, you’re not winning and it can mentally drain you.

‘I feel very refreshed, I don’t feel tired at all. I feel different to last year when I went out early.

2024 Huading Nylon World Open - Day 7

Trump picked up two big titles in China this season (Picture: Getty Images)

‘This season obviously winning three in a row, my season was kind of complete early on and I was able to enjoy the rest of it. I feel like the pressure is off. Now it’s about getting the thing off my back where I don’t perform in the big ones, when I know I have the past four or five years, I’ve won as many as pretty much anyone else. Maybe about proving it to myself than to other people.’

Trump has four Triple Crown titles to his name, three of which have come in the last five years, so it is hardly a disastrous return in the biggest tournaments, but criticism remains that he is sweeping up smaller titles and not landing the grandest prizes.

He is certainly not panicking at 34 years old and feels comparisons to players in their late 40s are unfair.

‘I just think it’s because they’re comparing me to Ronnie and that can only be a compliment,’ he said. ‘It’s obviously difficult because I’m compared to people a lot older than me who’ve had a lot more tournaments to go at.

‘I have to take it with a pinch of salt. If they’re asking why I’m not as good as Ronnie and not comparing me to anyone else, I’ve got to see it as a compliment.’

Trump has a smile on his face again ahead of his Crucible campaign (Picture: Getty Images)

Comparisons with the Rocket are as relevant as ever as O’Sullivan has also landed five titles this season, including the first two of the Triple Crowns.

Trump is looking at the positives of that, though, motivated to chase down the world number one at the biggest event on the calendar.

‘It’s motivating for me when I’m doing this well and I’ve still got someone to aim at,’ he said. ‘Everything I use as motivation. If someone says Ronnie has had a better season, I take it as it is and try and win the next event, that’s all I can do.

‘There’ll be people that will still think Ronnie has had a better season even if I win the World Championship, it’s just how people work. All I can do is beat what’s in front of me and as long as I’m happy with what I’ve achieved, that’s all that matters.’

Despite his pretty relentless success this season, Trump is not actually convinced he has played at his peak, with ever-growing experience helping to let him pounce on opportunities when he has to.

‘I haven’t particularly played that well, I just think I’ve dug in when I’ve had to,’ he said. ‘I feel like I recognise when I need to do stuff and I’m able to do it. I don’t particularly think I’m playing much better than in the last season or two when I wasn’t winning as much, I’m just able to get over the line a bit more.

‘It’s still not easy, but there are a couple of tournaments I’ve won this season quite comfortably. It’s always good when you don’t have to go to a deciding frame. You don’t have to really play your best.

‘The World Open was one I kind of cruised it, I didn’t play amazing, but was able to get through comfortably. It is nice.’

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Trump has a tricky task ahead of him in his Crucible opener this year in Hossein Vafaei, although he handled the same tie impressively when they were drawn together in 2022, winning 10-4.

The Prince of Persia created a string of headlines last year thanks to his war of words with Ronnie O’Sullivan ahead of their second round clash.

The Rocket hammered Vafaei 13-2 and Trump reckons that should be a lesson learned on trash talk. In fact, the Ace would love to hear his opponent having a pop at him because it is no bad thing for the upcoming contest.

‘I think it’s good for publicity, but I don’t feel you are able to play your best when you do that,’ said Trump. ‘I feel like no one ever has said that and then backed it up after.

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Hossein Vafaei was a danger man in the draw for the seeds (Picture: Getty Images)

‘I think it’s very easy to fold in snooker, you never want to give your opponent a bigger reason to beat you. In the past, especially when I won it [in 2019], I had motivating factors against certain players that helped me.

‘Just the smallest things help me produce my absolute best because you want to beat them so badly. I think in snooker it is good to see, I like seeing it, but I think the person on the end of it is more likely to win. So if Hossein wants to say something about me then I’d be very happy to receive it!’

On what riled Trump five years ago, he said: ‘Just little incidents. I won’t say who, but there was one on the practice table, I hadn’t been on there very long and someone walked in, wanted me to get off and kind of did it a little bit rudely. I ended up playing them and beating them during the tournament.

‘Just little things like that. During such a long period you need something. Sometimes I get a little bit too friendly and don’t care as much, but when you have something that makes you think “I have to beat him now” then that ignites you inside. If anyone wants to say anything then I’ll be very happy to listen.’


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