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Bingham aims to renew fitness and focus for the run-in

STUART BINGHAM says he plans to regain fitness and focus for the season’s run-in after a very disappointing February.

The world champion’s difficult follow-up season to his Crucible win continued last month with first-stage exits at the Welsh Open and the Gdynia Open.

The 4-3 defeat to Scot Fraser Patrick last week in Poland cost Bingham a place alongside the European Order of Merit’s top 24 at the Ladbrokes Player Championship in Manchester in late March.

Ball-Run has also just missed out on a place at this week’s winners’ group of the Championship League after three wins and three defeats saw him edged out of a semi-final spot in the final qualifying round.

Runs to the semi-finals at the Shanghai Masters, Gibraltar Open and The Masters this season have shown Bingham can still compete with anyone on his day but he admits he needs to find his best game again to have a chance of successfully defending his world title in May.

Bingham, who jokingly apologised to the ‘snooker gods’ and asked for his game back on social media this week, said: “It was very disappointing in Poland of course. I got back into it at 3-1 down but I missed a long pot and he cleared up. It just sums up my season and I should not have been in that position.

“I probably took that into the first day at Crondon but I did end up playing better there and I made 140 to beat Mark Davis’ high break for £500. Which cheered me up!

“But the last couple of months the game has just felt like an effort and I have probably been low on confidence.

“Now I need to find my focus and I also want to get a bit fitter again. I stood on the scales in Poland and realised I have put on a stone.

“I remember my first coach Joe Lazarus used to say to me ‘fit body, fit mind’. It’s not always the key to playing well, but it can help when you feel better about yourself.

“Now it is time for a bit of a break then I just need to try and win at least one match in Wales next week. I still feel I can end the season well but I have just got to find that spark again and start getting results.”

Bingham, who is taking a short break with his wife Michelle at an Essex seaside spot this week, is next in action at the ITV4-televised Ladbrokes World Grand Prix in Llandudno against Dave Gilbert on Wednesday, March 9.

After that he will play exhibition matches in Preston, Blackburn and Hoddlesden before travelling to compete at the China Open (March 29 – April 3), where he will start against Cao Yupeng.