Judd Trump edges out Ronnie O'Sullivan to win Northern Ireland Open
Judd Trump produced a superb performance to retain his Northern Ireland Open crown with a 9-7 victory over Ronnie O'Sullivan at Belfast's Waterfront Hall.
The world champion hit four centuries as he repeated his 2018 win over O'Sullivan to secure his third ranking title of the season.
Yet it was no cruise with O'Sullivan, in a high-quality encounter, refusing to let the near-faultless Trump power ahead.
Five-time world champion O'Sullivan never led but repeatedly responded to Trump's clearances with excellent breaks of his own.
In the end, in a match where errors were few and far between, Trump had enough of an advantage to hold on and he secured his latest success with a break of 84.
Trump said on Eurosport: "It's obviously hard to defend any title but do it against Ronnie is amazing.
"The game was free-flowing. He was scoring heavy, I was scoring heavy. I think it was good to watch.
"It was important to get off to a good start against him. We've seen in the tournament everyone who falls behind gets steamrollered.
"You've got to play against Ronnie otherwise you lose. It's quite simple. I've got to up my game to stand any chance."
Trump set the standard early, opening up a 2-0 lead with breaks of 68 and 56 before O'Sullivan responded with a brilliant 126.
A run of 123 allowed Trump to restore a two-frame lead but O'Sullivan hit back with 88.
Trump claimed the next two to move 5-2 ahead and may have fancied a maximum after potting 11 reds and 11 blacks in the seventh.
O'Sullivan took the last frame of the opening session and the first of the next to reduce the deficit but another century, 106, put Trump 6-4 ahead.
The world champion again fell short of a maximum as he recorded 113 in the 11th frame but O'Sullivan kept himself in contention with 72 in the next and a 76 clearance cut the gap to 7-6.
Trump responded to the pressure yet again to move within one of victory with a break of 124 but O'Sullivan was still not done, replying with a brilliant 135.
Trump had to produce his best yet again and did so with another fluid break to clinch victory.
"It was a good match, I think everyone must have enjoyed watching that," said O'Sullivan.
"I loved every minute of it and I enjoyed watching Judd playing some great shots."