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Robertson pinpoints reason behind 'ruthless' Trump's green baize gold rush

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Judd Trump and Neil Robertson after the German Masters final.

Image credit: Getty Images

ByDesmond Kane
04/05/2020 at 13:52 | Updated 04/05/2020 at 16:15

Neil Robertson has paid tribute to "ruthless" Judd Trump – and believes the world champion is perfecting his craft because he no longer has to waste time retrieving balls in practice.

Boosted by the presence of younger brother Jack to help his preparations around the globe, Trump has been snooker's undisputed number one for the past 18 months. World number two Robertson feels his time-management skills provide a blueprint for all of the green baize to follow.

For Robertson, imitation may well be the sincerest form of flattery.

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"His all-round game has changed a lot over the last couple of years," Robertson told Eurosport. "I know that he does a lot of work with his brother there.

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When you have someone pulling balls out for you, it really does help your game. You get a lot more time just to focus on playing. It's a really good idea and something I'm going to look at next season I think.

"I'm going to employ someone to come to the club and do something similar. I'm not talking about someone who is going to be an idiot, and play on their phone.

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"They've got to be focused on the practice session. I really think it could be beneficial because it means I can get more practice in.

Especially when I've only got so many hours in the day after dropping (son) Alexander off at school. It saves a lot time plus it replicates how you play in a tournament when you have the referee pulling the balls out.

"When you play a shot, you have to walk round the table to get the balls back out again. His brother is a big help so he can commit more time to working on other aspects like safety."

Trump's gold rush was sparked by a 9-7 victory over Ronnie O'Sullivan in the Northern Ireland Open final in November 2018.

Trump swept aside O'Sullivan 10-4 to win his first Masters in January 2019, followed by a 10-6 win over Ali Carter in the final of the World Grand Prix in February 2019 and an 18-9 filleting of John Higgins in the final of World Championship in May 2019.

He picked up from where he left off as world champion by lifting the International Championship in August 2019, the World Open and the Northern Ireland Open in November 2019, the German Masters in February 2020 and the Players Championship and Gibraltar Open in March 2020.

No other man has claimed six ranking events in a solitary campaign. O'Sullivan, Shaun Murphy and Kyren Wilson have all been toppled by Trump this season in his ongoing pursuit of greatness.

Neil Robertson and Judd Trump before the 2011 World Championship.

Image credit: From Official Website

Robertson hit five centuries in thrilling 10-9 win over Trump, who weighed in with three of his own, at the elite Champion of Champions event in November, but lost 9-6 to the Bristolian in the German Masters final in February.

In 33 career head-to-heads, Trump has won 18 and Robertson 15 to illustrate the intensity at the top of the sport.

Australia's 2010 world champion Robertson revealed that Trump's safety strategy surprised him at Berlin's Tempodrom.

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"I remember in the final of the German Masters, I was 4-2 up and felt comfortable, but Judd changed the momentum of the final by starting to play a lot of really good safety shots," said Robertson. "It caught me off guard big time because he's never really been renowned for playing consistent safety over a long period of time.

He kind of had me in knots really like Mark Selby at his best. It caught me by surprise. When you've tactically got the initiative, it gives you so much more opportunity.

Trump was due to compete at The Tour Championship in Llandudno in March and defend the World Championship in Sheffield in April.

Both events have been postponed until July at the earliest due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Trump will be the player to beat when the sport comes out of lockdown.

He has collected £978,100 so far including the £150,000 bonus he received from sponsor BetVictor after his Gibraltar triumph.

It comes a season after becoming the first man in the history of the game to clear £1m in a single season. He is likely also to set a new record for most centuries in a season. With 97 and counting, he needs seven more to overtake Robertson's 103 set in the 2013-14 campaign.

"His conversion rate in finals has just been astonishing. He's beaten Ronnie, Higgins, Murphy, myself..he's just ramped it up several gears over the past two years," said Robertson, who alongside Trump is managed by Django Fung at Grove Leisure.

His ruthlessness in finals has been the most impressive thing about it. He is 31 this year. I don't see too many players in his age group showing the same level of desire to be the best they possibly can be.

"You can't be on top of your game all the time, but you have to be professional and be the best you can be any given time. I think Judd has done that, and you see that with the results.

He's won six tournaments so is going to be the player there to be shot at, but I think he inspires me to want to improve and also look at things he's done to improve.

"The ones who really want to add bits to their game, are the ones who are going to improve. They're the ones who are going to win the big tournaments."

Robertson believes Trump realised it was impossible to win titles without committing yourself to a solid tactical approach. He lifted the UK Championship with a 10-8 win over Mark Allen in 2011 after losing 18-15 to Higgins in the world final, but has discovered a maturity to become the game's leading player.

"There are so many great players in the game these days that you have to be well rounded to deal with all of them," said Robertson.

If you can only play against guys who go for long pots and are a bit reckless with their safety approach, then you aren't going to get very far when you play someone like John Higgins or Mark Selby.

"You have to be ready for absolutely everything. And that is why the standard of snooker has never been higher because you know you have to work on all those elements of the game.

"It's like in football, the full- backs have to be like wingers when they're playing football. They're not just full-backs in the modern game.

"My game has come on leaps and bounds even since the season when I made 103 centuries because I had to improve to live with the competition."

Desmond Kane

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Watch the snooker vodcast every day at 2pm on Eurosport 1.

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