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Judd Trump confirmed his status as world number one for the start of next season after sweeping into the second round of the World Snooker Championships in Sheffield, but believes it is only a matter of time before a new superstar emerges to re-write the record books.
Trump turned a 7-2 overnight advantage into a 10-4 triumph over qualifier Liam Highfield, guaranteeing that he will finish another campaign at the top of the rankings, and booking him a last-16 clash against former semi-finalist David Gilbert.
The 31-year-old praised the transformation under outgoing World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn and said the onus was now on players to continue Hearn’s work and help lift their sport to a whole new level of popularity.
Trump said: “Barry got us back on the straight and narrow and he’s kind of told everyone to spread their wings and fly away now. It’s up to us to do the job of making snooker bigger – there’s only so much he can do off the table and the players need to take that responsibility.
“I came in when there was six tournaments for the first three or four years. There were barely any tournaments to play and I hardly felt like a professional at all. Having to go through those three or four years made me appreciate it when all those tournaments did come along.”
If Trump himself has distanced himself from the notion that he could one day match Stephen Hendry’s record of seven Crucible titles, he is convinced a new star will arrive to beat that mark – with only Ronnie O’Sullivan’s five-minute maximum break in 1997, in his opinion, remaining untouchable.
“For me there’s only one record that will never be broken and that’s Ronnie’s maximum time, and that’s partly because the referees move a lot slower nowadays and they don’t have the speed of the likes of (former referee) John Williams.
“They take their time picking the balls out so I don’t think it’s even possible. But every other record will be broken. Hopefully in my lifetime, someone will come along and I can’t wait to see that person and hopefully he will come along while I’m still on the tour.”
Trump did not have it all his own way upon the game’s resumption, as Highfield rustled up his first career Crucible century with a 138 in the 13th frame, but it only prolonged the inevitable and a 52 from Trump finally wrapped up victory.
“This year I’m trying to play with a lot of freedom and enjoy myself when I first broke through,” added Trump.
“There is absolutely no pressure this year. I am just going to have a good practice and if I win I win, if I don’t I don’t.”
In the morning session, Mark Davis built a 5-4 advantage over former champion Shaun Murphy, while Mark Williams leads by the same score against Sam Craigie.