STUART BINGHAM was happy to sharpen up for his world title defence with a ranking event unanswered points record at the China Open.
Ball Run scored 547 without reply in his round one 5-3 win over Sam Baird to break the previous best of 494 by John Higgins, which came against Ronnie O’Sullivan.
And despite a 5-1 quarter-final defeat to Ricky Walden, the world No 2 returned from Beijing feeling he had taken what he needed from the event.
Bingham, who also hit the tournament’s highest break with 143, said: “Ricky got a bye in an earlier round and I think he might have been a bit fresher than me by the time we played. I also felt like the table beat me a bit because it played very differently that day.
“And I have had my battles with Ricky over the years – I tend to win one then he wins one, so I guess it was just his turn!
“But overall I had a great week and that unanswered points total was nice to get and shows my game is getting to where it needs to be heading into Sheffield.
“I felt I was playing well enough in China to possibly go on and win it, but to be fair I did not face a top 32 player until Ricky.
“But I said beforehand I would be happy to reach the quarter-finals so I can’t complain and now I need to focus on the Crucible.”
Off the table it was also a useful trip for Bingham and his manager Gary Purkiss, who discussed potential sponsorship deals for the future and met up with old friends and acquaintances.
Basildon pro Bingham was also happy to report his ability to speak the Chinese language is improving as he managed to order a “cold beer” and helped a fellow customer with a bill!
The world champion will be in action again on Saturday (April 9) evening at a sold-out exhibition event in Shropshire (further details are here) and then on Monday he will be in London as part of a promotional day for the World Championships with title-sponsors Betfred.
On Tuesday Bingham will attend a ceremony in Basildon to receive a ‘Freedom of the Borough’ award and on Wednesday he will head to Sheffield to gear up for the start of the World Championships on April 16.
On Thursday, Ball Run will be part of a Q&A panel with ex-world champions Shaun Murphy and John Parrott and on Friday he will be part of a PR day for the event before attending a black-tie ‘Cue Ball’ in the evening.
Bingham said: “I have a busy week coming up but it is all enjoyable stuff, but to be honest I am now just looking forward to it all getting started again and trying to defend my title.”