Judd Trump came from 7-3 down to beat Zhang Anda 9-7 in the final of the BetVictor English Open to land his 24th ranking title and first for 19 months.
China’s Zhang, who had never previously been beyond the quarter-finals of a ranking event, threatened the biggest upset in a final since Fan Zhengyi beat Ronnie O’Sullivan to win the 2022 European Masters. But a missed blue when he had the chance to lead 8-3 proved the turning point as his opponent stormed back to win the last six frames. Trump came from 5-2 down to win his semi-final against John Higgins 6-5 on Saturday, and proved again tonight what a dangerous force he is with the wind in his sails.
Victory ends a long wait for ranking silverware for Bristol’s 34-year-old Trump, stretching back to the Turkish Masters in March 2022. He did win snooker’s biggest invitation event, the Masters, in January this year, but his performances in ranking events had left him disappointed, notably when he was beaten by Barry Hawkins in the final of the BetVictor European Masters in August.
With 24 ranking titles he moves into sixth place on his own on the all-time list, one ahead of Neil Robertson and just one behind Mark Williams. It’s his second English Open crown and he moves top of the BetVictor Series rankings after three of the eight counting events. The series leader after the BetVictor Welsh Open in February will bank the £150,000 bonus which Trump scooped in both 2020 and 2021. He moves up one place to fourth in the world rankings and climbs to second on the one-year list.
Zhang, age 31, has enjoyed the best week of his snooker life, notably knocking out Ronnie O’Sullivan in the last 16. He looked composed and in control at 7-3, but faded in the closing stages as he let slip the chance to become the sixth player from mainland China to win a ranking title. The £35,000 runner-up prize is by far his biggest pay day and boosts him from 57th to 40th in the world rankings.
Leading 5-3 after the first session, Zhang raced clear in the first two frames tonight with breaks of 109 and 98 for 7-3. In frame 11 he was on 19 with the reds nicely spread when he missed a tricky blue to a centre pocket. Trump later led 39-26 when he played a clever cross double on the third-last red to a centre pocket which set him up for a break of 29 to take his first frame of the night. And he built momentum with a 135 total clearance to trail 7-5 at the interval.
Frame 13 was a scrappy affair, resolved when Trump dropped the last red into a centre pocket as he closed the gap to just one frame. A run of 53 gave the Englishman control of the 14th and he later added 17 to square the match for the first time since 1-1. A fragmented 15th frame also went Trump’s way as he edged 8-7 ahead, before wrapping up the contest in style with a break of 92, drawing cheers from the packed crowd with a series of flamboyant shots in the victory lap.
“I was up against it the whole day,” said Trump. “In the end I managed to find some momentum and clawed it back. Zhang played well until 7-3 and put me under a lot of pressure, it was only when he missed a couple that I started to turn it round. After he beat Ronnie I knew he was comfortable to get over the line against anyone. He looked at home, I was just hoping that something drastic was going to happen because he was looking like the best player in the tournament. I had to stay patient and dig in because losing in a final is not a nice experience when you have to watch your opponent pick up a trophy.
“I wasn’t getting chances and even when I did I wasn’t scoring. The two frames to get back to 7-5 at the interval, that kept me in it and I was hoping he would feel the pressure of his first final.
“I was struggling with my tip and I lost two of the frames in the first session because of that. After the session I decided to change it and (tournament director) Paul Collier put on a great new tip. I stayed at the venue from 4pm to 7pm just practising with the new tip, I didn’t go back to the hotel at all. I feel rewarded now because I could have just decided it wasn’t my day, or not played with the new tip. I have never had to do that during a match before.
“The crowd here was brilliant all week, it’s great to play in front of a full house and the atmosphere for the semis and final this weekend was incredible.”
Article by WST.