World No.1 Judd Trump doesn’t expect to lift the UK Championship trophy for the second time, despite easing into the competition’s last 32 at the expense of Dominic Dale 6-3.
The Bristol potter has made a blistering start to the 2020/21 season, having already claimed the English Open and the Northern Ireland Open titles ahead of his arrival at the first Triple Crown event of the campaign.
The latter of those wins came just a day before the ongoing tournament began, and Trump believes it would be a tough ask to earn back-to-back successes at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
But having become just the fourth player to reach 750 career centuries en route to victory over Dale - alongside Ronnie O'Sullivan, John Higgins and Stephen Hendry - the 31-year-old is enjoying playing without putting any pressure on himself and is happy with the level of his current performance.
“It’s so hard to win two events in a row,” said Trump, who claimed the UK Championship title in 2011. “I’ve got no expectations whatsoever, every game is a bonus at the moment.
“I’ve already won two events this season, so to win three already would be a miracle. I’m just going to keep taking it one step at a time. If I progress I’m happy and if I don’t, I’ll go again at the next tournament.
“There’s no pressure out there at this stage, there will be if I get to the final but not so early on. I’ve been here before, done it and it’s just about getting through the first couple of rounds.
“I was always in control, I played well. I knew it was always going to be a tough game. Dominic started really well and made a good break in the first frame, but that just made me focus even more.”
While all World Snooker events continue to be held in Buckinghamshire due to Covid-19 restrictions, Trump welcomed the news that up to 1,000 fans could be allowed into each session of the Masters at Alexandra Palace in January.
And although crowds remain absent at the current tournament - which is usually held at the Barbican Centre in York - the 19-time ranking event winner believes there remains a special buzz around it.
Trump added: “If there are fans at the Masters then brilliant, but if there isn’t it’ll be fine. I’ve got used to playing without crowds now.
“Alexandra Palace is a great venue with great fans and I really think snooker is starting to progress in different ways. Covid-19 has somewhat halted the momentum, but I know whatever the officials decide for January they’ll do an amazing job.
“This tournament is still special. With the setup and the TV coverage and everything you know it’s a big event, and it just feels that little bit different to the rest of the tournaments we’ve played in so far this season.”