Judd Trump cruised into the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship for the fourth straight year and admitted it would be a "shame" if he finished his career without landing a dream Crucible final against Ronnie O'Sullivan.
O’Sullivan’s shock second-round loss to Anthony McGill on Friday night scuppered hopes of a first final clash between the game’s leading stars, but Trump, who returned to polish off opponent Dave Gilbert with a 13-8 victory, believes it can still happen in future.
Trump said: "I’ve learned a lot from Ronnie over the last 10 or 15 years and hopefully we can have many more match-ups, and hopefully one day we can get that dream final.
"It would be a shame if it didn’t happen, but it’s so hard. He’s been to so many finals already and I’m still progressing, and hopefully over the next few years we’ll time it right. It would be amazing if it did happen, for snooker and ourselves."
O’Sullivan reverted to punditry duties after losing his final frame decider against McGill, and immediately backed Trump to build on his current solitary title win in 2019 and finish his career with five world crowns to his name.
Trump, who will face either Shaun Murphy or Yan Bingtao in the last eight, said: "I’d take another one at this time, it is so hard to win. But we have got a lot of respect for each other so any time he says something complimentary, you’ve got to take it."
Resuming with a virtually unassailable 11-5 overnight lead, Trump could afford to let slip the opening two frames of the day before a break of 107 in the final frame steered him in the direction of a relatively routine success, but one he freely admitted did not see him hit top form.
With a potential six former world champions cramming into this year’s quarter-finals, Trump is all too aware he will need to tighten up his game if he is to take at least one step closer to the career tally predicted for him by O’Sullivan.
"I didn’t play my absolute best but you don’t want to be playing your best at this stage of the tournament," added Trump.
"It’s hopefully similar to the previous events I’ve won this season – playing decent for the first few games and saving my best for last.
"Winning when I’m not playing my best is something I’ve managed to do over the last couple of seasons, I’ve battled and scraped through. Against Dave there wasn’t much in it but it was a case of nicking the close ones and doing the right things at the right time."
Stuart Bingham compiled two centuries as he reeled off the three frames required to seal a 13-6 win over Jamie Jones and book his place back in the quarter-finals for the first time since he won the tournament in 2015.
Bingham, who was forced to battle through two rounds of qualifying after dropping out of the world’s top 16, is now playing arguably his best snooker since he was a surprise winner of the title, and will next face O’Sullivan’s conqueror McGill for a place in the semi-finals.