Snooker: Trump makes sparkling start

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The Independent Online

Judd Trump showed exactly why he is the game's rapidly rising star with a sparkling start to his World Championship semi-final against Ding Junhui yesterday.

The last Englishman standing in Sheffield produced a consistently high-class display in the opening session as he built a 5-3 advantage over Ding. There was a sensational red played at high pace with deep screw along a side cushion which had the audience gasping, a phenomenal long brown, and an exquisite cut red to set up a frame-winning break. The left-hander also played an aggressive pot right-handed, making light of awkward bridging, in the closing frame. Trump had made a promise to entertain at the start of the tournament and he is making good on it.

John Higgins is having no problem finding inspiration in his bid to win a fourth World Championship. The world No 1, who trails 5-3 in his semi-final with Mark Williams after the first session in Sheffield last night – and is aiming to become only the third player to win four or more titles here – revealed he would like to triumph on snooker's greatest stage in honour of his late father.

John Snr passed away in February after a six-year battle with cancer. But with another Crucible crown well within his grasp, Higgins revealed his father's "spirit" is spurring him on. "He's been inspiring me," said Higgins. "It's the first time I've been down here and he's not been here. But I know he's watching down, I know he's here in spirit for me. He was a big character at the Crucible, always in and around the place."

"This tournament's a test of everything," admitted Higgins. "Whether you can get to sleep at night; your whole nervous system is in meltdown for 17 days, it's just how you handle it. I suppose that's the key. I hope I have experience to help here, but experience only gets you so far. You have to have the ability to go with it."

Higgins last night had two centuries, 135 and 120, but is still behind Williams. Whatever happens on the table in the next four days, Williams will replace Higgins as world No 1 for the start of next season, and the Welshman would love to do so by joining his opponent and Ronnie O'Sullivan on three Crucible titles. The 36-year-old from Cwm had runs of 72 and 74.

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