It has been a strange season for Judd Trump – in 10 events played; the former world number one has reached just a solitary final at the Champion of Champions – a far cry from his trophy-laden 2020/21 campaign.
However, he appears to be edging through the gears as the snooker season reaches its spring climax, and after a run to the semi-finals at the Masters, the 32-year-old is also going strong in Germany.
Trump blew away Zhou Yuelong in the last 16 of the German Masters, racking up an impressive 130 break in the opening frame on his way to a resounding 5-0 victory.
The left-hander received a bye into the second round following the withdrawal of Gao Yang, and he will be looking to make that pay at the Tempodrom venue in Berlin, where he has run up a 15-game winning streak (Trump lifted this German Masters trophy in 2020 and 2021).
In the quarter-finals, he will meet the supremely talented UK Championship winner Zhao Xintong, who knocked out three-time world champion Mark Williams 5-3 in the first round before trouncing English pro-Tom Ford 5-1 in the second.
On the other side of the top half of the draw, Kyren Wilson and Ricky Walden will meet to determine who plays the winner of Trump vs Zhao in the last four.
Wilson won the last-frame decider against Craig Woodman to book his spot in the quarters, while Walden defeated Masters champion Neil Robertson and Scottish Open victor Luca Brecel.
Foot off the gas
Starting the term as the world number one, Trump is now as low as third in the rankings, having been usurped by Mark Selby and Ronnie O’Sullivan, and so inconsistent has his season been that the ‘Ace in the Pack’ is in danger of failing to qualify for the Players Championship via the one-year money list.
Perhaps he will take some comfort from his performances at the Masters, which saw the return of fans to the Alexandra Palace venue.
Trump seemed to revel in the boisterous atmosphere created by the crowd, and in his opener, he saw off Mark Allen with the help of three-century breaks and an 88.
A quarter-final against his old nemesis Wilson looked set to be a titanic collision, but so good was Trump in producing six half-century breaks that his 6-1 victory passed by in the blink of an eye.
In the semi-finals, the left-hander would run into local favorite Barry Hawkins, who had a healthy chunk of the London crowd in his corner.
With 2-1 and 5-4 leads in the race to six, Trump was left to rue a handful of elementary errors as the Hawk completed a famous comeback victory in front of his passionate supporters.
However, even accounting for that disappointment, Trump must have come away from the Masters with renewed confidence in his game, and with the World Championship just a matter of weeks away, he looks to be hitting form at just the right time.