Judd Trump produced a great escape to keep alive his hopes of a first World Championship snooker title.
At the tournament he regards as being “10 times bigger” than any other, Trump was in deep first-round trouble when he dropped the opening frame of the day to slide 7-3 behind against Liang Wenbo.
The 26-year-old had been off his game on Wednesday and it called for a champion’s response to clamber out of danger. Trump, who reached the 2011 Crucible final and was a semi-finalist last year, was up to the challenge and took seven of the next eight frames to win 10-8.
His victory tees up a tantalising second-round clash with Wenbo’s fellow Chinese player Ding Junhui.
Trump said the match was going against him at 7-3, but he was heartened by edging the next frame.
“Then I got some momentum and played some really good stuff. I took the balls really well, felt very confident, very relaxed under pressure. It seemed like when I had my back against the wall that’s when I thrived.
“I played some real good snooker, just solid snooker. I wasn’t forcing it really. I took a bit of heart from when I was losing big to Shaun Murphy a few years ago and came back to win that.
“I’m so pleased to get through. I can’t wait for the next game now,” he said.
When he trailed 7-6 at the mid-session interval, Trump was working his way back into the match and tournament, but still tweeted from his dressing room: “Drinks on me later if I get out of jail here.”
He might face a hefty bar bill, but he remains in the hunt for the €418,000 top prize.
Trump lost 6-4 to Liang, a fellow left-hander, at the UK Championship in December, tumbling out of the tournament after squandering a 4-1 lead, and called the loss “embarrassing”.
This would have been a chastening defeat too. In four previous visits to the World Championship, Liang had lost three times in the first round, with the exception coming on his debut eight years ago when he made an eye-catching run to the quarter-finals.
The prospect of Trump going home early, joining fellow first-round shock victims Stuart Bingham, Neil Robertson, and Shaun Murphy, looked very real when Liang began with a 59 break that took him four frames clear.
It was not vintage Trump that saw him claw back to 7-5, but a sparkling 106 followed.
Trump then levelled the match, added 69 in the next frame to go ahead, and despite Liang drawing level at 8-8 it was Trump who marched through, punching the air in relief at the end.
On the other table, Hong Kong’s Marco Fu edged 5-3 ahead of Scotland’s Anthony McGill as they began their best-of-25-frame second-round match.
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