STUART BINGHAM says the key to making a strong defence of his world title will be simply be enjoying the occasion.
Ball Run gets the World Championships underway against Ali Carter at 10am on Saturday morning (April 16) and admits he cannot wait to try and break the infamous ‘Curse of the Crucible’.
No first time champion has ever defended the title at the Sheffield venue but Bingham, 39, who beat Shaun Murphy in the final 12 months ago to shock the snooker world, thinks he knows the recipe for success again.
He said: “I think the key for me will just be to enjoy it. Everyone will be twitching, missing balls and feeling the pressure because of what is at stake.
“But if I can enjoy it as much as I did last year then I think I have got a good chance.
“I look back at some of the pressure balls I was potting, like at the quarter-final stage last year, and I remember that what was so important was just enjoying the occasion, playing the shots as they came along and just letting my snooker do the talking.”
World No 2 Bingham admits his draw could not have been any tougher after two-time world finalist Carter came through the qualifiers to set up an all-Essex showdown.
Bingham said: “Ali or Ding were the two toughest ones to get so it certainly could have been a bit kinder.
“I was looking at the World Snooker website and it says he has beaten me the last six times we’ve played – and I did not realise that – so I guess he is a bit of a bogey player for me.
“He has had his well-publicised health problems so to come through that shows you what a strong character he is. But I need to focus on me.
“It doesn’t matter who I drew because they’re all good players. What I need to do is relax into being the champion and once I strike that first ball tomorrow morning I’ll have a better idea of how it will be.”