Two of the most exciting natural talents in the modern game collide in the final of the 2019 World Open in Yushan on Sunday as Judd Trump takes on Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.
The two left-handed potting machines face off for the £150,000 top prize at the Yushan Sport Centre as Un-Nooh aims to defy the odds and land his first ranking title in a traditional format.
The Thai sensation opened his account at this year’s Shoot-Out but is already guaranteed the biggest pay-cheque of his career (£75,000) after a landmark run this week.
Un-Nooh has never beaten Trump in a 15-red format and is out to avenge his agonising 10-9 defeat in the First Round of the World Championship, in which he squandered leads of 6-3 and 7-5.
For Trump, the rest was history as he shrugged off that early scare and went on to fulfill his snooker destiny by lifting the world title at The Crucible and has since reclaimed the world number one spot from rival Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Trump secured his twelfth ranking title at the International Championship in August and now stands on the cusp of another memorable triumph on Chinese soil.
The Bristol ace has done it the hard way in progressing to the final, coming through last-frame deciders in three of his five wins along the way.
He began with a 5-4 victory over Sam Craigie, before seeing off Liang Wenbo 5-4 and edging out Joe Perry 5-4.
Trump then thrashed Michael Holt 5-1 before fending off a late fightback from John Higgins to close out a 6-5 triumph in Saturday’s Semi-Finals.
By his own admission, ‘The Ace in The Pack’ has not been at his brilliant best this week, but will be out to save his best for last against a player whose free-flowing is almost a carbon copy of Trump’s.
Un-Nooh’s last ranking Semi-Final in traditional snooker came in this very event three years ago, but now the 34-year-old has the chance to create history and close in on a place in the world’s top 16.
Un-Nooh has seen off Zhang Yang, Craig Steadman, Sunny Akani, 2018 finalist David Gilbert and three-time ranking event winner Kyren Wilson en route to the final, prevailing in deciding frames against the latter two.
His only previous win against Trump came in the 2015 Six Reds Championship – the year he went on to win that title on home soil in Bangkok.
The final gets underway from 6am GMT for a total of nine frames before resuming to a finish over the best of 19 from 11.30am.
Trump: “I haven’t played great all week. In spells I’ve been ok, but nowhere near my best. I have had to dig in which is pleasing.
“Thepchaiya is the most exciting player in the game, he has even overtaken Ronnie O’Sullivan.
“A lot of other players think he’s the best to watch and I agree with that. He’s free-flowing and gets on with the game, we need more people like that in snooker.
“It should be a good final for the fans, though hopefully I can win a bit more easily.”
Un-Nooh: “This is very different to the Shoot-Out, that event is only one frame and depends on destiny. This event is long frames and big money.
“Playing in China is similar to playing in Thailand for me, I am happy here.
“I prefer to play Judd and many Thai people want me to play him, because he beat me at the Crucible (10-9 in the first round). It would be a good game.”