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Judd Trump toasted ten minutes of snooker perfection after striking a majestic maximum 147 break and waltzing into the last 32 of the Northern Ireland Open, writes Will Jennings.
The world No.1 achieved the coveted feat for the fifth time in his career during the third frame of his procession 4-0 victory over Chinese teenager Gao Yang.
The mesmerising visit was just one of three brilliant centuries from the 2019 world champion, who also racked up efforts of 127 and 109 in a near-faultless performance in Milton Keynes.
Trump’s last maximum came at the 2019 German Masters and despite the lack of crowds at the Marshall Arena, the ‘nervy’ 31-year-old admits it felt just as special.
“It’s ten minutes of perfection, so it’s nice to get that under your belt,” he said.
“It’s always special and just doesn’t happen that often. The nerves you get don’t compare to anything else in snooker – winning tournaments or nothing, making maximums you’re just shaking out there.
“It’s always pleasing to make one, especially on the TV. I was very nervous and it was exciting to make – you know everyone’s at home willing you on. When other players are on it against me I always want them to get it and it’s always nice to watch on TV, so it’s special for me.
“It’s only my fifth one and whenever you make them it’s always that extra bit special, but all round it was a perfect game for me and I played very well today.
“For me it was the same as making any of my other 147s – it was just as special and the nerves were exactly the same. It didn’t make any difference and it’s just you against the table out there when you’re on a 147.
“It doesn’t matter if there’s a crowd there or not – the 147 is still special. Even in practice if you make one and you’re playing someone, you’re still happy with it and it puts a smile on your face and you know you’re playing well.”
18-time ranking event winner Trump glistened under the Marshall Arena lights as he blew away the world No.103 in four stunning frames.
And the result kept the two-time defending champion’s hopes of a historic hat-trick in the Home Nations event alive, with this year’s competition being held in Milton Keynes – rather than Belfast’s Waterfront Hall – as snooker adapts to Covid-19 restrictions.
Next up for Trump is world No.32 and last season’s Championship League winner Luca Brecel, who beat Rod Lawler 4-1 in his last 64 match on Tuesday.
Trump knows the Belgian stands no chance if he replicates his second round form and hopes his ‘faultless’ snooker can return to the baize once more.
“It was pretty much near faultless snooker, really,” he added.
“It was near as perfection as you could probably play. You can’t really be criticising yourself when you play like that.
“I was especially proud in the last frame – normally after a maximum you’re a bit nervy and it’s hard to make a break but I made another really good break in the last game. All aspects of my game were really good there.
“He’s [Luca] a great player and seems to be coming back to form a little bit. It’s taken him a while to really adapt to the professional Tour but to get your all-round game there, it took me a while to come through too.
“Maybe Luca’s learnt now that you can’t pot everything. A bit of safety as well with the potting, and he’s going to be dangerous.”