Snooker star Judd Trump is enjoying life - and why not given his meteoric rise in the sport.
The 'Juddernaut' has dominated the green baize game for the past four seasons, having won a staggering 17 titles and pocketed plenty of deserved prize money to boot.
New world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan might have reclaimed the coveted world No 1 mantle and Aussie potter Neil Robertson might have dazzled last season with four major titles. But it is Trump, who celebrates his 33rd birthday later this month, who has arguably been snooker's most consistent performer at the top level.
With 23 ranking titles to his name, Trump has little to prove. However, the former World, Masters and UK champion has rediscovered his desire to win more titles to cement his proud legacy in the sport.
"People are comparing me to the greats of the game now, but I'm just at the start of my career," said Trump, speaking exclusively to The Sportsman.
"It's a compliment, really, but I'm only nearly 33 and I've still got a long way to go in my career.
"I really don't see any reason why I can't be playing the standard I am now when I'm 40, as long as I look after myself and put in the practice.
"There's no doubt as you get a bit older it's sometimes harder to motivate yourself to practice, but generally I'm pretty good.
"I've had a few amazing seasons and won so much, but I'm realistic that you can't always win five or six tournaments a season."
Trump swept all before him in the 2019-20 season when he won a staggering SIX tournaments. He won four the previous season and, after his incredible six-season success, won a further five in the 2020-21 campaign.
Last season he won two tournaments, the prestigious Champions of Champions crown and inaugural Turkish Masters, as well as reaching the World Championship and Welsh Open finals respectively. Only a revved up O'Sullivan denied Trump a second world title, the Rocket roaring on to claim an historic seventh Crucible crown.
"I was disappointed to lose, of course, but I was genuinely happy to just get to the final," reflected Trump.
"Beating Mark Williams in the semi-final took so much out of me, I was just drained by the time I got to the first session against Ronnie.
"I was always chasing the match, but I started to feel better on the second day and I knew that if I got a chance I could still win, but Ronnie was just awesome.
"But given how tired I was - and how I hadn't played well for a while - finding some form in Sheffield and getting to the final gave me a real confidence boost."
Trump has always been a player to fear, but a confident Trump - potting balls off the lampshades - is a formidable proposition for any player, even O'Sullivan. And snooker's potting sensation is relishing his battles with the Rocket and fellow rivals Robertson, Mark Selby, John Higgins and Williams.
At 40 Robertson had his most successful season last term, four-time world champion Higgins won the Masters and reached five major finals and Welshman Williams is also playing some of the best snooker of his career. And with O'Sullivan seemingly back to his best - and motivated to remain 'top dog'- Trump is relishing the challenge which lies ahead.
"You really look forward to the big occasions, you always get that buzz playing Ronnie, John and Neil in big finals," said Trump.
"It's important to keep the hunger - and the older players have still got that, there's no doubt about that.
"I'm still very motivated and I'd like to get back to world No 1, that gives you that extra bit of confidence.
"But that's probably only going to happen if you win the World Championship.
"The ranking system is such a way now that whoever wins the World Championship is going to be No 1, so that's my aim.
"I've been really consistent over the past few seasons. I just want to enjoy my snooker.
"I don't have to play in every tournament, it's going to be nice picking and choosing the big events and trying to stay fresh to challenge for them."
Trump kicks off the new season at the European Masters in Germany later this month (16-21).
"There's always been a lot of expectation on me, but I don't mind that," said Trump.
"As long as I'm enjoying my snooker, playing the game the right away and it's fun, then I'm happy."
Anyone interested in sponsoring Judd this season should contact [email protected]
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