Mark Allen claimed a third ranking title of the season in dramatic style on Sunday night to join an elite snooker group.
The 36-year-old from Northern Ireland beat last week’s Masters champion Judd Trump 10-9 in a thrilling World Grand Prix final at The Centaur in Cheltenham.
That saw Allen pocket the £100,000 first prize and ensure he will rise today to a new career-high world ranking of No3 – ahead of his beaten opponent.
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The others to win a treble in a single campaign are Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins, Mark Williams, Trump, Mark Selby, Ding Junhui and Neil Robertson.
For good measure this year’s UK Championship and Northern Ireland Open winner nicked the £10,000 high-break prize with a superb effort of 141 – edging out Trump with his 140.
Allen is the player of the season to date by a country mile, and this success took his earnings so far to around £540,000 – with several big-money events still to come including the World Championship.
And a ninth ranking title lifted him to joint 11th in the all-time list – tied with John Parrott, Peter Ebdon and Shaun Murphy.
Allen, who rallied bravely after a magnificent Trump fightback from 7-2 and 8-4 down to 8-8, said: “I was shaking like a sh*tting dog there!”
That had ITV interviewer Rob Walker scrambling with a live on-air apology to anyone offended – but Allen continued: “Judd had me completely gone.
“It’s not often I go, I am pretty good under pressure but some of the balls Judd potted near the end were ridiculous. He had me under so much pressure. At 8-5 he potted one most people would get one in a 1,000, but Judd seems to get them a lot.
“I fell over the line and it would have been heart-breaking to lose from 7-2 up, but Judd is a great competitor and he never gave up.
“I struggled most of the week but played my best stuff in the early part of the final, that is when I felt most comfortable. I am very proud to have got over the line – but I have felt better!
“And if I can keep getting to the business end of tournaments not at my best, I feel I can really do damage when my best comes along.”
Trump said: “It was disappointing because I wasn’t feeling that nervous coming into the last frame, and I felt really calm.
“I just took my eye off the yellow in the decider, it was just too easy where the rest of the balls were. I was thinking ‘Just stick the white down there and you can stand up and it’s game over’.
“I had my chances to win the match. I was just trying to come back and make a game of it for the crowd. I am kind of proud of that.
“Congratulations to Mark, I don’t want to take anything away even though I had chances to win. He was solid all day and put himself in the position where he could have a few chances to get over the line
“He blew me away to go 7-2 up, I felt good to come back into it. But it’s been an amazing couple of weeks and Mark is a great champion.”
It was a scruffy start to the final, with the first two frames shared and then Trump taking a 2-1 lead with a break of 74.
But from that moment Allen, not having to be at his fluent best, reeled off five frames in a row against a distinctly off-colour Trump.
The new Masters champion threw in costly misses and they were punished by Allen who made breaks of 58, 88, 63 and 77 for a 6-2 lead going into the evening. But the standard soared last night.
The first mini-session saw Trump have runs of 140 and 108 – but Allen made an 88 and then stole the high-break prize previously shared by Trump and Shaun Murphy on 140 with a superb effort of 141.
But from 8-4 Trump piled on the pressure, and with a bit more luck and Allen showing signs of nerves he roared back to 8-8 with breaks of 51, 87 and 58.
Allen stopped the rot to edge one up with two plays, only for Trump to force the decider with a break of 76. But the Antrim ace held his nerve at the death.
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