Web Stories Thursday, May 23

Judd Trump made a statement of intent by racing to a 10-5 victory over Hossein Vafaei in the first round of the World Championship.

The Iranian made a good start to the second session by taking the opening frame, but Trump responded in superb fashion to book his place in the last 16.

Trump was not at his sizzling, free-scoring best but showed he has more than one string to his bow by suffocating his opponent.

Vafaei needed a fast start and got in with an excellent opening red, showing his cue power with a deep screw to get on the blue. With pink and black out of commission, the Iranian made 30 before having to run for cover.

Trump missed a pot but got lucky as a series of cannons saw a red drop into the bottom left. The cherry on the cake for Trump was he landed perfectly on the blue, but he did not take advantage of his good fortune as he missed a simple red – to audible gasps from the Crucible crowd – to hand the table back to his opponent.

‘Gets worse the more you see it’ – Trump’s poor miss against Vafaei shocks Crucible crowd

It was not a simple table that Vafaei inherited, with reds on cushions, and he added 28 to his advantage before missing a red across the bottom rail. The lead was 46 with a possible 51 on the table, and Trump was unable to mount a comeback as Vafaei took the opening frame of the session to cut the gap to two.

Trump made 34 before running out of position in the 11th. He got back in with a brilliant pot and laid a fiendish snooker. Although Vafaei made the escape, he stuck a red over the left middle and Trump picked off the balls he required to restore his three-frame lead at 7-4.

Trump was not able to bend the cue ball to his will as can be the case when at his absolute best, as was proved when he failed to make contact with the pack when on a break of 12 in the 12th.

The tactical side of Trump’s game is much improved and he put Vafaei in trouble with reds clustered towards the bottom left. The error was drawn and Trump extended his lead to 50 points before running for the safety of baulk rather than push the boat out and take on a tough colour with the threat of a counter.

Rather than one knockout punch in the 12th, Trump took it thanks to a series of blows as he extended his advantage to four frames.

Trailing by 57 points in the 13th frame, and having had a light-hearted exchange with referee Rob Spencer over the position of a red, Vafaei had a chance to counter after Trump missed a makeable red. He picked off pots and looked set to hit back, but he missed the penultimate red when attempting a pot with his left hand rather than using the rest.


‘You play’ – Vafaei asks referee to play his shot at World Championship

In a theme of the match, Trump punished the mistake to extend his lead to 9-4 and to the cusp of the second round.

Trump was a 10-4 winner when the two players met at the same stage two years ago, but Vafaei ensured there was no repeat as he fluked the final pink and knocked in the black to keep his hopes alive.

World No. 2 Trump appeared irked by some movement in the crowd when missing a pot in the 14th frame.

He did not look fully settled on Sunday – his highest break of the session was 44 – but that run secured him a good advantage in the 15th with reds on cushions.

Vafaei chanced his arm, but the pot did not drop and Trump closed out the match to reach the last 16 where he will face Tom Ford or Ricky Walden.

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