STUART BINGHAM was thrilled to see Anthony Hamilton win his maiden ranking title – despite a grueling semi-final defeat to his friend at the German Masters.
Ballrun was out of sorts in the 6-4 loss in Berlin and the Sherriff of Pottingham, 45, went on to claim a memorable comeback win over Ali Carter in the following day’s final.
World No 2 Bingham was not at his best but put in a solid week with wins over Alfie Burden (5-2), Yu Delu (5-3), Zhang Yong (5-3), David Gilbert (5-4) and the highly-rated Yan Bingtao (5-2) to reach the last four.
But after fighting back to 5-4 from 5-1 down against Hamilton, a mistake in his break-off in the tenth frame – when Bingham hit the blue – gave Hamilton a chance to close the match out.
Bingham said: “Beforehand I was in the toilets with Anthony as we were putting on our bow ties and I said, ‘I hope you are as nervous as me?’. He said, ‘Yeah, I’m twitching big time at the moment!’.
“Obviously playing in front of 2,500 people, and waiting around all day to play, made it hard to enjoy when it finally started.
“I was gutted with my own performance and put on Twitter that I was very disappointed. But I texted Anthony late last night to say I was well chuffed for him.
“I guess it was a bit like me winning the worlds in that he will have had everyone congratulating him.
“He’s a player’s player, he says things how it is, and in October he was having to find money to enter tournaments. Now he is up to 37 in the rankings and into the Champion of Champions and other things.
“Perhaps my win at the Crucible, and maybe Mark King winning in Ireland has given others self-belief and it is good to see people like Anthony having success like this.”
Bingham will now drive up to Preston today where he is one of 32 stars who will battle it out for the £100,000 top prize at the World Grand Prix.
Ballrun, who lost an epic final 10-9 in the event against Shaun Murphy in Wales last year, breaks off against world No 24 Ryan Day, 36, at 1pm on Tuesday (February 7) in a match televised on ITV4.
Bingham said: “I think the run in Germany has given me the belief that I can get to a semi-final with my B-Game.
“But it will be hard against Ryan, who I think got to the quarter-finals in Germany, so he is obviously in a bit of form.
“And I think the last time we played he beat me in Germany last year.
“He’s a good player and he has probably taken that title of the best player not to win a ranking event now off Anthony.
“But he is a good all-around player who has been to a couple of finals so I will have to be on my game.”
Bingham also booked his place at the China Open in late January with a 5-4 win in the qualifiers over James Wattana.