STUART BINGHAM is looking forward to his usual warm welcome in Berlin this week as he bids to land his first ranking title of the season.
The world champion gets his German Masters campaign underway against world No 34 Fergal O’Brien at The Tempodrom on Thursday afternoon (February 4).
Ball Run beat Daniel Wells and Anthony Hamilton in the qualifiers to book his place in Germany, while Fearless Fergal saw off Hossein Vafaei Ayouri and Peter Ebdon to progress.
Bingham knows his Irish opponent well and they both took part in the Dafabet Irish Legends Cup in an Ireland versus England event last month.
The Irish team of Ken Doherty, Mark Allen, Joe Swail and O’Brien won 18-10 against Ronnie O’Sullivan, Jimmy White, Tony Knowles and Bingham at a packed out Goffs arena in County Kildare (the teams are pictured above).
O’Brien was also the first player to beat Bingham in a ranking event after his Crucible win last May as he came back to claim a 5-4 victory at the Australian Goldfields Open.
But Bingham comes into the tournament on the back of a confidence-boosting run to the semi-finals of the Masters last month and is looking forward to his trip to Germany.
He said: “I had to win two matches before Christmas to get here and it’s another important tournament so I am keen to do well.
“But I always enjoy a trip to Germany because they are knowledgeable snooker fans and they always give the players a warm welcome.”
Bingham will then turn his attention to the exciting Coral Shoot-Out event, which will be held in Reading for the first time this year.
The Essex pro, who lost in the Shoot-Out final to Dominic Date in 2014, said: “They have moved it from Blackpool to The Hexagon in Reading and it will be televised on ITV and not Sky Sports – so it is all change this year.
“It’s an event in which the players can have a laugh and one the fans really enjoy, so I’d really love to win it.”