Judd Trump won a third-successive Northern Ireland Open title with a third-straight win over Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final.
The world No 1 beat the world champion 9-7 in Milton Keynes, becoming the first player to win the same ranking event for three consecutive years since Stephen Hendry at the UK Championship in 1996.
Having taken a scrappy opener with the final blue and pink, Trump made it 3-1 at the mid-session interval with a break of 69.
A 128 break put Trump 5-2 up but O’Sullivan responded to ensure the deficit was back to two at the end of the first session with a fluent 137.
O’Sullivan needed a quick start to the evening session but it was Trump who was moving through the gears, an 89 taking the first frame.
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The next two were shared, O’Sullivan clearing the table with 48 to stay in touch, and the ‘Rocket’ kept himself in it by taking the 12th to trail just 7-5 at the mid-session interval.
A superb 115 from Trump put him one frame away from the title but O’Sullivan hit back with breaks of 93 and 74 to make it 8-7.
However, when O’Sullivan missed a red to the middle, the defending champion stepped in with a break of 89 to win by the same scoreline as in the previous two finals.
Trump told Eurosport: “It’s amazing really. To win any tournament is tough but I played some good snooker.
“It’s the same every time against him, every time you make a mistake you know the frame’s over. You can’t leave anything on.
“It doesn’t matter who I play in the final, I want to win. Against Ronnie I play well because I know I have to play well.”
O’Sullivan had raised eyebrows when he continually returned to the table to pot a few balls despite having already lost the frame.
He explained: “I don’t really practise much at home, so this is the best place to get practice.
“I wasn’t trying to make the frames long, I just wanted to clear the balls up. I just enjoy playing.”
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