Judd Trump showed why he is known as the Ace in the Pack as he came from 2-0 and 3-1 down to beat Shaun Murphy 6-4 and book his place in the Cazoo Champion of Champions semi-finals.
The World Number 2 demonstrated why was the pre-tournament favourite, playing a positional shot in the seventh frame which he rated among his top three best ever shots, as he potted the yellow and opened up a red at the same time.
Trump had to fight for his win to set up a semi-final showdown with Barry Hawkins on Friday night, unlike his earlier Group 3 opener in which he brushed aside Baipat Siripaporn 4-0.
Murphy delivered an early masterclass as he raced into a 2-0 lead. After Trump hit the first break, The Magician potted a long red and took the frame with a break of 107.
It was more than 20 minutes before Trump potted his first ball, and Murphy took his chance again to win the second frame 90-5.
The best of 11 Group final was looking ominous until Murphy missed a straightforward red in the next frame which allowed Trump to pull one back with a clearance of 73. But Murphy won a safety battle to lead 3-1 at the break.
Trump showed why he was the man to beat as he won the next two frames to level the match. He then played some of the best positional snooker in the business – including that yellow – to come from behind and edge the frame to lead for the first time.
Trump went from strength to strength and came back in the next frame from needing snookers to win it on the black and move to within one frame of victory.
This was the most exciting of the four Group finals and Murphy refused to give up, and he came from behind to win the ninth frame and reduce Trump’s lead to 5-4.
That was the end of the fightback, however, as Trump booked his fifth successive Champion of Champions final with a closing 107 break.
“I didn’t feel great out there, I felt a bit nervy, a bit rusty, but I managed to produce some good clearances and just dig in and turn it around,” said Trump. “I have played a few good shots in my time but in terms of position, that yellow is in the top three, but I will let everyone judge it on social media.
“When they go in, it gives you the inspiration to go on and do well in the tournament.”
Trump had safely negotiated the potential banana skin of facing Thailand’s rank outsider Siripaporn earlier in the day.
It was always going to be a tough ask for the women’s World Champion, in her first year on the world tour, facing the man with three ranking tournaments under his belt.
Although she made some impressive pots, it was a routine 4-0 win for 2021 Champion of Champion Trump, whose highlight was closing the match with a final frame break of 115.
The other Group match was not as close as predicted, as Murphy made the most of some mistakes from Tyneside Terror Gary Wilson to ease through 4-1 in the best of seven format.
Murphy also closed out the match with a century, notching a 107 break in the fifth frame.
The winner of the Trump-Hawkins semi-final will face either Mark Allen or John Higgins in Sunday’s final, as they meet in the other semi on Saturday night.
There are still a limited number of tickets available for the remaining sessions.