Ronnie O’Sullivan v Judd Trump: Northern Ireland Open final 2020 preview – Trump eyeing title hat-trick

Jamie Shaw in Northern Ireland Open

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Ronnie O'Sullivan keeps his title defence on track (credit:Nigel French/PA Images)

“I didn’t apologise” to Ali Carter or Mark Allen says Ronnie O’Sullivan

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Judd Trump holds off Ronnie O’Sullivan to secure Northern Ireland Open hat-trick

O’Sullivan and Trump renew their fascinating rivalry (Photo by WST)

Judd Trump aims to secure a hat-trick of Northern Ireland Open titles at the expense of rival Ronnie O’Sullivan when the pair meet in the final for the third consecutive year.

Trump has defeated ‘The Rocket’ 9-7 in each of the last two finals in Belfast and will look to maintain his stranglehold on this trophy in Milton Keynes on Sunday.

The world number one has already enjoyed another memorable week at the Marshall Arena, making his fifth career maximum in the Second Round – one of seven century breaks so far.

Trump has never won the same title on more than two occasions but has an emphatic recent record in ranking finals, having won ten of his last eleven.

Defeat Kyren Wilson in the Championship League final ended his run of ten ranking final wins in a row, but victory here would bring about his fifth major triumph of 2020 and 19th in total.

Trump began his run with a 4-1 victory over Gerard Greene before whitewashing Gao Yang with a 147 along the way.

He then edged out Luca Brecel 4-3 in his toughest test so far, before thrashing Martin Gould 4-1 and Scott Donaldson 5-1 in the Quarter-Finals, followed by a comfortable 6-2 defeat of David Grace in the Semis.

O’Sullivan, meanwhile, is through to a first ranking final since claiming his sixth world title and eclipsing Stephen Hendry’s record as the most decorated ranking event winner in snooker history.

After a relatively slow start to the season, ‘The Rocket’ has caught fire in Milton Keynes this week, dropping eleven frames to Trump’s eight.

The world number two thrashed Jamie O’Neill and Elliot Slessor 4-1 before overcoming Matthew Stevens and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 4-2 to reach the Last Eight.

There, he reeled off five consecutive frames from 2-0 down to dispatch Ding Junhui 5-2 before repeating the feat from 3-1 down to overcome Essex rival Ali Carter 6-3 on Saturday.

The 44-year-old is bidding to claim this title for the first time for what would be his 38th career ranking triumph dating back to 1993.

There is little to separate the two players on both current form and their overall head-to-heads, with O’Sullivan having edged 12 of their 23 previous meetings since 2008.

Trump has won three of their last four, including the 2019 Masters final, with this their first meeting since the Northern Ireland Open final 12 months ago.

The final gets underway from 1pm GMT for a total of eight frames before being played to a finish from 7pm over the best of 17 frames.

WATCH O’SULLIVAN vs TRUMP STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

O’Sullivan vs Trump – Player’s View:

O’Sullivan: “I’m just happy to be in the final. I’ve had a dodgy start to the season by my standards.

“Table time is important for me as I haven’t practised much since the World Championship.”

Trump: “It would be nice to win 9-7 again. It is incredible really, even for me to be in the final three times in a row.

“Against Ronnie it is very strange and not something that happens very often.

“It would be nice to hopefully go out and play well, win the event and be able to defend my title back in Northern Ireland next year.

“I always enjoy playing him. I always look out for him in the draw and want him to get through so I can play him.”