Judd Trump came from 5-2 down to beat Tom Ford 10-8 in a tough opening to his Betfred World Championship title defence – and in doing so became only the second player to make 100 centuries in a single season.
When he trailed 3-0, 5-2 and 6-4, Trump was in danger of becoming the latest victim of the Curse of the Crucible; no first-time winner has ever successful retained the title the following year. But he grew stronger as the match progressed and, in the end, was a comfortable winner as he booked a last 16 meeting with Yan Bingtao or Elliot Slessor.
And the highlights of Trump’s fightback were his breaks of 104 and 131 in frames four and 15 as those were his 99th and 100th centuries of the 2019/20 campaign. Neil Robertson’s record of 103, set during the 2013/14 season, is now under serious threat.
World number one Trump arrived in Sheffield as the first player to win six ranking titles in a single season and will now feel confident of setting new landmarks over the coming fortnight.
Bristol’s Trump took the last two frames of the first session to trail just 5-4 coming into tonight’s conclusion. Ford made a 48 clearance to take the opener before Trump’s run of 63 made it 6-5. Late in frame 12, Ford missed a crucial green to a baulk corner, and his opponent snatched it by potting brown and blue. Trump took the lead for the first time with a break of 70 before Ford hit back to go 7-7.
Runs of 131 and 57 put 30-year-old Trump 9-7 ahead. Leicester’s Ford kept battling and won frame 17 with a run of 69. But Trump dominated the next to secure his place in round two.
“It was a bit of a struggle to get going this morning,” said Trump. “I was happy to be only 5-4 down then towards the end tonight I was making less mistakes and scoring more heavily. The first match here is always hard. I’ll go home now to regroup and when I come up the second time I will be more relaxed.
“It’s nice to be in the exclusive club to make 100 centuries in a season though it would have been more special for Neil because he was the first to do it. If I do well in the tournament I should beat his record.”
Trump bumps elbows with MC Rob Walker after being introduced into the arena as World Champion
Trump was disappointed by Friday’s announcement that there would be no fans at the Crucible until at least August 15th, but was pleased to be among the small handful of players today to witness the reduced crowd.
“I felt very safe, the layout was superb and it was a good atmosphere,” he added. “It was great to be introduced as World Champion in front of my family, at least I got to experience that.”
On the other table, Alan McManus established a 5-4 lead over three-time World Champion Mark Williams after their first session. Scotland’s McManus is competing at the Crucible for the first time since his epic run to the semi-finals in 2016. He had the first opportunities in both of the opening two frames, but it was Williams who moved 2-0 up with runs of 47 and 70.
From that point 1994 Masters champion McManus assumed control. The 49-year-old fired in breaks of 105 and 84 to draw level and head to the interval at 2-2. When they returned, McManus made it three on the bounce in a dramatic finish to the fifth frame as Williams missed the final pink to a top corner, leaving it for McManus to move 3-2 ahead.
Welshman Williams restored parity with a break of 60, but two frames on the bounce from McManus saw him move 5-3 ahead. Williams claimed the last frame of the session with a break of 68 to reduce his deficit ahead of the conclusion tomorrow evening at 8pm.