Judd Trump hopes to rediscover the “fire” that swept him to his first UK Championship title in 2011 when he faces Neil Robertson in this year’s final in Milton Keynes.
Hours after Robertson scored three centuries in a 6-2 win over Zhou Yuelong, Trump played his part in setting up the mouthwatering contest as he beat Lu Ning by the same score.
In contrast to Robertson, Trump was critical of his own performance despite another largely dominant performance in which he scored two centuries on his own and came relatively close to another 147.
Trump told Eurosport: “The fire wasn’t really there tonight – I was always in control but sometimes you just lack that buzz and you need that bit of pressure from your opponent.
“It’s not like I’m a million miles off my best – I missed a few easy balls but at times I played well. Hopefully I have saved my best for the final.”
Remarkably Trump has not featured in a UK final since his 2014 defeat to O’Sullivan, while Robertson’s last appearance in the final of the sport’s second biggest tournament came in 2015.
Lu seldom looked capable of upsetting the formbook and was made to pay for missed pots and rash safety play, a missed black in the third frame letting Trump in for a 107 clearance.
Trump potted 13 reds and 12 blacks in the fourth frame but left the next black agonisingly over the pocket on 97 as he extended his lead to 3-1, and ultimately eased to victory.
Robertson, the 2010 world champion, suggested he is approaching some of the best form of his career after dispatching Lu’s Chinese compatriot Zhou.
Two-time UK winner Robertson said: “This is the best I’ve ever felt in my game.
“I want to play the proper way. You watch people like Roger Federer and guys like that, and the way they go about it and win tours.
“I’ve won enough tournaments by mixing it up, but I want to go and win it the right way.”
Robertson, who brushed aside a resurgent Mark Selby in the last eight, continued his stunning form against a player whom he had whitewashed 9-0 in their previous meeting in the European Masters final in January.
Breaks of 125 and 118 established a 3-1 interval lead while only a fortunate fluke enabled Zhou to get a frame of his own on the board.
A third century in the sixth frame moved Robertson to the cusp of victory and after Zhou rallied with an impressive 141, Robertson finished off the job with a break of 89.