STUART BINGHAM says he will be raring to go in his Champion of Champions opener against Neil Robertson – despite only stepping off a plane from the Far East 24 hours earlier!
A run to Saturday’s final of the China Championship – and an eventual 10-7 defeat to John Higgins – meant Ballrun touched down in the UK yesterday and headed home to grab a night’s sleep before he has to get on the road to Coventry to face the Aussie on Tuesday.
The gruelling schedule has been the price of success for Basildon pro Bingham this season with two semi-finals and two final appearances in the last four events.
But the world No 2 says he would have it no other way and will be ready to be a serious contender again for the coveted Champion of Champions title.
He said: “By the time I start against Neil I will have literally been home for 24 hours. I got in today and turned the telly on and they’ve just started playing.
“So it will be tough in that way but hopefully I can get six or seven hours of sleep tonight and be ready to go. But I’m confident.
“I haven’t played Neil for ages – I think the last time I played him was the semi-final of the UK Championships three years ago.
“He won this event last year but at the moment possibly needs to find a bit of confidence as he probably has not had a good a run as he would like. But he’s still one of the top players so I will have to be on my game.”
Victory for Bingham would set up a match with the winner of Ding Junhui and Ali Carter to win Group 2 – which has been dubbed the ‘Group of Death’.
Ballrun admits it hurt to lose his semi-final to an inspired Mark Selby at the International Championship – the world No 1 crushed Ding 10-1 in the final – and to a rejuvenated Higgins at the China Championship.
But he was consoled by the £100,000 runner-up cheque in Guangzhou and revealed his excellent form has done wonders for his place on the money ranking list already this season.
The former world champion added: “I’ve been involved in so many good matches over the last month – my semi-final with Murphy was a cracker, and the match with Michael Holt could have gone either way.
“I saw a stat that I am about £3,000 off what I earned in the whole of last season – and we are only a third of the way through this year.
“So it’s obviously a good boost to be back on form and having deep runs in these tournaments and I plan to keep it that way.”