Judd Trump battled back from the brink to deny Ronnie O’Sullivan and claim the inaugural European Masters title with a thrilling last-frame victory in Bucharest on Sunday.
Trump found himself at the point of no return at 8-6 behind, only to reel off the last three consecutive frames to seal a memorable 9-8 triumph.
The 27-year-old also fired in a trio of century breaks in the final to reach the milestone of 400 in his glittering career so far, going on to claim his sixth ranking title.
“It was a very tough game today,” admitted Trump. “Ronnie wasn’t playing as well as he can but he still should have beaten me which shows how good he is.
“He’s one of the only players who can put you under pressure when he’s sat in his seat.
“My safety wasn’t the best but I made some important long pots when I needed to and to win this trophy means a lot to me.”
O’Sullivan carried a 5-3 lead into the closing session of the final and looked to have his first title of the season under wraps, only for the young left-hander to snatch it with an inspired comeback.
“Judd deserved to win that final by a mile,” said O’Sullivan. “He played the better snooker today and I want to say well done to him.”
O’Sullivan drew first blood in the afternoon by edging a cagey opening frame on the final black, before Trump swiftly levelled by taking the second without reply.
Back-to-back breaks of 53 and 62 handed O’Sullivan a two-frame cushion, but only for Trump to rattle in a terrific break of 120 and bridge the gap.
The duo continued to trade frames as ‘The Rocket’ made a 59 to move 4-2 in front, and after Trump had responded with a well-taken 82, O’Sullivan added a 55 in frame eight to move 5-3 ahead.
It was China Open champion Trump who came out firing after the restart, clinching frame nine before compiling his second century – a 105 – and following it up with 67 to lead for the first time at 6-5.
O’Sullivan, though, rallied back with clinical breaks of 93 and 72 to edge back in front, before moving to the verge of victory by securing frame fourteen.
That, however, would be the five-time World Champion’s last significant contribution as Trump racked up a third ton (109) and dominated frame sixteen to set up a grandstand finish.
O’Sullivan was first to the table in the decider but could only make five, and the left-hander punished emphatically with a break of 74 to complete the comeback and seal the €75,000 top prize.
The final was held on the tenth anniversary of the death of Paul Hunter, and O’Sullivan paid tribute to the three-time Masters champion in his post-match interview, adding: “Paul had a real zest for life, he was one of the greats, and if you’re looking down on us, we all send you our love.”