'They tightened the pockets overnight' – Trump overcomes Higgins in error-strewn match

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World champion Judd Trump.

Image credit: Eurosport

21/06/2020 at 19:49 | Updated 22/06/2020 at 09:57

Judd Trump reached the Tour Championship semi-finals with a 9-4 win over John Higgins in a match that struggled to hit the heights of last year's World Championship final between the duo.

A day after Stephen Maguire and Neil Robertson set a new record for a best-of-match 17 frame match with eight centuries in Maguire's 9-5 win, this match only contained one – a magnificent 135 from the world champion Trump in the 11th frame.

When you consider world number one Trump hit seven centuries and Higgins four in Trump's classic 18-9 win at the Crucible 13 months ago, this was a dreary contest with four-times world champion Higgins in particular looking well out of form behind closed doors.

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Trump and 2004 UK champion Maguire meet on Wednesday in the last four at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes in what promises to be an absorbing contest.

Robertson prompted controversy on Saturday evening by claiming the table was set up for heavy scoring with Maguire hitting four straight tons in successive frames, but Trump certainly did not find the table to his pleasing.

"It was a tough game, neither of us played that great," said Trump. "Conditions were a bit difficult. I'm pretty sure they came in and tightened the pockets up overnight after the first match.

"I was very happy to be leading, second session I put my foot on the gas and I felt a lot more comfortable."

Trump continued: "I don’t think he’s playing to the same level that he used to play, even the last couple of times I’ve not played great and still managed to beat him.

“It’s sort of like I’m on the way up and he’s kind of on the way down, with his age as well, he’s been around so long.

“He’s still a tough player to beat (but) I certainly feel a lot more confident playing against him now and I really fancy my chances.

“I felt comfortable. He wasn’t really playing well enough to finish the games in one chance. He obviously hadn’t been practising that hard, I don’t think.”

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Maguire hit a record six centuries for a best-of-17 frame contest in downing Robertson on Saturday, but Trump admits he is relishing the challenge.

"He's played unbelievable snooker, but it's very hard to back that up. I was pleased with how I got through," he said.

"I can only get better and he can only get worse so hopefully we meet somewhere in the middle."

Trump led 5-3 at the end of the afternoon's first session, but could easily have trailed by the same margin with every frame seemingly littered with human error before Trump eased away by winning four of the closing five frames.

Scottish icon Higgins could only roll in top breaks of 68 and 69 – and will need to improve dramatically if he is to be a serious contender at the World Championship which begins in Sheffield on 31 July.

Tour Championship draw (best of 17 frames)

(All sessions start at 1:30pm and 7pm BST)

  • Neil Robertson 5-9 Stephen Maguire (Saturday)
  • Judd Trump 9-4 John Higgins (Sunday)
  • Mark Selby v Yan Bingtao (Monday)
  • Shaun Murphy v Mark Allen (Tuesday)

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