Judd Trump laid out rival Kyren Wilson with a series of hammer blows on Friday – and then insisted the Masters atmosphere is now more boxing than snooker.
The Juddernaut is chasing a second title at the prestigious invitation tournament at Alexandra Palace and reached the semi-finals with an emphatic 6-1 victory Kettering’s ‘Warrior’ Wilson.
Last year world No2 Trump, 32, had to withdraw from the event at the last minute when title favourite after testing positive for Covid. But he is revelling in the enthusiasm pouring out from the stands with the event back at its spiritual home after a year behind closed doors in Milton Keynes.
In a release of emotion during a post-match interview in the arena and fired up by the raucous 2,000 sell-out crowd, Trump – who made breaks of 68, 74, 50, 76 and 67 - roared out “Come on, baby!”.
He added later: “I’m not sure about breaking into song like Tyson Fury, there are no tunes in me although I might do a bit of back-up singing for MC Rob Walker. I’ll do some ad libs.
“There was a lot of energy in there and it just came out. Tyson has got a pretty good voice when he does his songs after winning – unlike me.
“But the energy and atmosphere we have seen this week is much more like a boxing arena than a snooker arena, and people want to see your personality and not holding it all in.
“I made an important clearance to go 3-1 up, potting a good red to get in. Kyren was starting to cue the ball well, and that totally changed the way the game was going.
“And then in the frame I made another good clearance after he missed a red to the top pocket. And losing those frames are body-blows if you are on the wrong end of them.
“The crowd is just so good here, I wish every tournament was here. It is incredible to play in this atmosphere, and it is why I play the game. I can’t wait to play out here again in the semi-final.
“And after missing this tournament along with Jack Lisowski with Covid last year, there is some pent-up aggression in me and I am loving it this time winning a couple of games.
“I was devastated to miss this one 12 months ago because I was playing well and had won the tournament before - it halted my momentum. And it was a bit the same when the World Championship got postponed and put back, I was playing really well before that so I haven’t always had the luck with the majors.
“It isn’t so much nervous energy you get from the crowd, it is just plain inspiring – you want to play your best. There is nowhere else like it, really.
“And to get a win like that against Kyren, you must be playing some good stuff. I do feel I am going through the gears a bit, even if this was closer than the scoreline looks. I’m just not making mistakes.
“When you get to the semi-finals of the Masters you are halfway there – two wins down, and two more to go to win the title. At the weekend in any tournament there is a different atmosphere.
“There might be a bit more beer drunk and it could get even noisier – if that’s the case after the week we have already had, everyone better bring ear plugs.
Wilson said: “I think the turning point was that fourth frame before the interval, it was massive when I was looking good to go 2-2. The first frame was scrappy and Judd pinched that and got some momentum for frame two – and the I finally settled in the next with a good 70 break.
“But then he has potted a fantastic red and brought one off the cushion, and cleared up. Then it was a similar story in the next frame, and they are big moments in matches like this. That was the difference today.
“I was a little unfortunate in a couple of moments, but these are the fine margins at the top end. And I really don’t think I am far off it, those crucial clearances were the difference in this match.
“I am sure Judd would agree he can’t pull those out of the bag every time – at least, I hope he can’t! But I accept he was the better player on the day, and he is always up there as someone who is up there as a contender to win any tournament.
“I don’t think the gap between me and Judd is as big as this scoreline suggests, no chance. And I leave today thinking that I’ll get him next time. So sometimes you just have to hold your hands up after a match, and move on to the next tournament.”