Mark King caused a huge shock as he took full advantage of Judd Trump’s struggles to beat the world number one 5-3 to reach the semi-finals of the English Open.
A winner of five events last season, Trump has yet to scale those heights in the early weeks of the new campaign.
He was looking to defend the English Open title he won last year, but came up short - paying the price for the inconsistent play that had hampered his game all week.
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The defending champion was bogged down early on as King dictated the play. A massive fluke in the third frame got Trump going, and he won three frames on the spin to lead, but King is a redoubtable player and he kept his nerve to take the chances presented to him by his opponent to reach a semi-final for the first time since the European Masters of 2018.
Trump has fashioned a justified reputation for potting reds off his opponents’ breaks, something Mark Williams has looked to counter with his roll-up break. King, who had not previously played on the match table this week, let his opening break of the contest run loose and it presented a chance for Trump. However, the world number one missed a red into the right corner, and King knocked in a 65 to set him on his way to taking the opener.
The defending champion struggled for form all week, and he passed up a couple of chances in the second frame. The game came down to the colours, and Trump twice went for extremely tough pinks. Both missed, the second of which left a chance for King who stepped in to knock in the two remaining colours to open up a cushion.
Trump missed a long red off the break in the first frame, but made no such mistake in the third. He made 52 but never looked in full control, and required a massive slice of fortune to get a frame on the board. Trump was under pressure with King laying an excellent safety. He caught the red much too thick, so thick that it went up the table and dribbled into the middle pocket - setting him up to take the third.
For the opening 50 minutes Trump looked out of sorts, but the fluke injected life into his game. At the start of the fourth he pulled off a brilliant plant - one of many he’s executed to perfection this week - and it set him on his way to a break of 84 to level the match.
The interval appeared to come at a good time for King, but he was the victim of a poor slice of fortune in the fifth. Trump was lucky to lay a snooker behind the black and after plenty of thinking time, King’s escape resulted in the white going into the left middle - and Trump hoovered up a break of 63 to get his nose in front for the first time in the match.
It continued to be a struggle for Trump, but he’s always capable of moments of brilliance - as demonstrated with a long red in the sixth frame.
“It’s not fair, he should not be able to get them,” Joe Johnson said on Eurosport commentary after Trump knocked a stunning long red into the right corner.
But the brilliance was interchanged with moments of poor play, and King was able to chip away and level the match at 3-3.
The seventh frame summed up the contest, as Trump produced a couple of brilliant pots - a red with the rest being the standout - but was held back by errors.
King is one of the clearest thinkers in the game, having been a pro almost as long as Trump, 32, has been alive. He was a regular practice partner with Steve Davis, and he drew on those experiences in the seventh.
He had a chance at a pot, but elected to play safe - figuring a chance may come his way. It did when Trump played a poor safety on the blue, allowing King to clear and take the lead.
King had to overcome a 10-1 losing record against Trump, and such things can be a burden with the winning line in sight.
To his credit, the 47-year-old - who turned pro in 1991 - took his chance in the eighth, albeit aided by a Trump miss and a slice of fortune as a red wiped its feet a couple of times before gravity sucked a red into the right corner.
King still needed to get the better of a tense safety battle, but put Trump in a snooker which the champion failed to escape from and a short time late the underdog closed out the match.
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