Curse strikes again as Judd Trump joins Mark Williams in Crucible exit

Judd Trump. Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty ImagesJudd Trump. Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images
Judd Trump. Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images
Judd Trump has tipped Kyren Wilson to succeed him as world champion after becoming the latest victim of the Crucible Curse.

The world No 1’s hopes of being the only first-time winner to successfully defend his Crucible crown were dashed, after a 13-9 Betfred World Championship quarter-final defeat to Wilson.

Trump arrived in Sheffield having enjoyed a record-breaking season as defending world champion – winning six ranking titles – but world No 8 Wilson, 28, was a worthy winner.

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“If Kyren plays like that and gets good run of the ball he will be very hard to stop,” said Trump, 30.

“His long potting was brilliant over the three sessions, he looks like he has improved.

“He will definitely be my favourite to win the title from here.

“His style is slightly different to mine, I think it is brilliant for the game that I can have someone from my own age group to compete with for the next ten or 15 years. To me, he looks like he has really improved.

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“He’s taken a step up from when we played before. It is all about me trying to put my foot back on the gas and get ready for next season, to keep up where he is at.”

Trailing 10-6 overnight, Trump won three of the opening four frames – with breaks of 72, 100 and 62 – to cut the deficit to 11-9. Wilson replied with a 94 break of his own.

But the Bristol cueman struggled after the interval, allowing Wilson to dominate, clinching victory with a 104 break.

Trump said: “Even in the last frame, the bits of luck you need to win the tournament just weren’t going my way. I’m not disappointed with how I played. I battled until the end.

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“I felt good out there but Kyren played some very good stuff. He scored pretty heavily and got the run at the right times, that is a pretty dangerous combination.

“In the last frame I went into the pack and finished on nothing again. It’s just minor things which can affect snooker in such small ways.

“The difference between 9-7 and 10-6 is huge. A millimetre either way changes the whole game. I’m not going to be too hard on myself.”

Wilson faces Anthony McGill in today’s semi-final – his only previous experience of a one-table set-up was a 2018 defeat to John Higgins – and he will start as strong favourite.

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“It is definitely up there with my best wins,” said Wilson. “Judd has been on a phenomenal run. He really held himself well as World Champion. I knew I’d have my hands full and that he’d come all guns blazing from 10-6 down. I’m delighted to have held him off at the end.

“For me it is the best venue on earth. I love coming here and I am so glad they’ve managed to get it on this year.”

Mark Selby admitted he doubted whether he would ever return to the one-table set-up at the Crucible after completing a 13-7 win over Neil Robertson to book his place in the semi-finals for the sixth time.

Selby suffered a crisis of confidence in the wake of his third world title win in 2017, losing his world No 1 ranking as he won just two tournaments in the following two years and crashed out in the early stages in Sheffield.

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But the 37-year-old, who was forced to battle through the first two rounds against Jordan Brown and Noppon Saengkham respectively, believes the manner of his win over fellow former champion Robertson indicates he is back to somewhere approaching his best.

Selby said: “Over the last 12 to 18 months I was questioning myself. I had got so used to winning tournaments then when I wasn’t winning tournaments it became very damaging to my confidence.

“I was happy with my performance against Neil. I felt if I got a chance I could score, and my safety play was back up with how it was a few years ago.

“As a match-play game it was right up there with my best performances. I can see the changes already, especially in my body language, so long may it continue.”

Selby will face Ronnie O’Sullivan in today’s second semi-final, following the Rocket’s 13-10 victory over Mark Williams.

Scotland’s McGill reached the final four with a 13-10 win over Kurt Maflin.