STUART BINGHAM is hoping his China Open campaign can set him up nicely for the defence of his world crown at the Crucible next month.
After missing out on a place at the Ladbrokes Players Championship in Manchester this week, Ball Run has decided to fly out to Beijing early to prepare for the penultimate ranking event of the season.
A last-32 defeat to Michael White at the China Open in April 2015 was far from what Bingham wanted – but a month later he won snooker’s greatest prize in Sheffield and admits he’d settle for a similar result again this year.
He said: “I’ve just done an interview with the guy doing the programme for the Crucible so I’m really starting to look forward to getting back there now.
“I’d certainly take a run to the quarter-finals in China to set me up for Sheffield. Winning a couple of matches out there would help me build on the confidence I got by reaching the final in Llandudno.
“Of course I would rather be in Manchester this week but that wasn’t to be so I’ll take the opportunity to go out to China a bit earlier. I’d normally go out three or four days earlier but this time I can go out a week earlier and I am looking forward to visiting there as always.”
Bingham qualified automatically for the China Open as world champion alongside the top two ranked Chinese players and reigning champion Mark Selby, although Selby has now withdrawn.
Ball Run will start against world No 67 Cao Yupeng, 25, a Chinese pro who is known as ‘Eric’ in the UK and has trained in Essex before.
Yupeng won their only previous meeting 4-1 in a PTC event in 2012, and Bingham said: “He is a very capable player but he is fighting for his spot to stay on the tour at the moment.
“He is a typical Chinese player in that he has a great cue action and can pot a ball from anywhere on the table.
“But I am ready for the challenge and I hope I can produce my best in front of the crowd in Beijing because they really enjoy their snooker out there.”