World number one Judd Trump lent a familiar feeling to snooker’s big return on Monday, breezing to a group stage victory on day one of the Championship League.
Trump claimed his sixth ranking title of the season at the Gibraltar Open on March 15, the last event before the coronavirus shutdown, and was back to the fore as the sport resumed 78 days later.
It was hardly business as usual – with the venue’s seats understandably empty, Trump’s ‘lockdown hair’ unusually unruly and the disinfecting routine between matches necessarily thorough – but the results were as expected.
Tournament organisers reported all of the previous day’s Covid-19 tests had come back negative and the top seed began with a 3-0 win over David Grace, an understandably scrappy encounter given the lack of match practice, but one in which Trump never looked like losing control.
A 3-1 win in his second match of the evening, against Elliot Slessor, came with the aid of snookers and a decisive black in the final frame to leave Trump sitting pretty at the head of Group Two.
Slessor needed a clean sweep of his own against Grace to put any kind of pressure on Trump’s final visit against Daniel Wells. Slessor started with a fine break of 106, the best of the night, but a 3-1 win was not quite enough.
Trump completed a maximum haul of nine points with a 3-1 win over Daniel Wells to close the first night of action after more than eight hours.
World number 11 David Gilbert is also into the last 16 after topping Group 13 with seven points.
Gilbert topped and tailed the day with 3-0 wins, over Jackson Page and Stuart Carrington but had to settle for a 2-2 draw with Zak Jones after a break of 83 sealed the final frame in the latter’s favour.