Bingham admits he never hit top form at the Crucible this year

STUART BINGHAM admits he never really hit top gear at the Crucible this year, despite holding good leads over two fellow world champions before his second-round exit.

Ballrun went out of the 2019 World Championships following a 13-11 defeat to four-time world champion John Higgins, who has since progressed to a semi-final meeting with Dave Gilbert.

The clash with the Wizard of Wishaw was an epic back-and-forth and thoroughly enjoyable to watch, but 2015 world champion Bingham felt he never really produced his A-game.

He said: “I think I started this match with a bit of confidence lost after what happened with Graeme.

“So to go 4-1 up was unbelievable because I didn’t feel good in my own game. And it going 4-4 made it interesting for the next session.

“We both threw everything at each other and it was a good session, and I really enjoyed that. It is just a shame I couldn’t come out on top.”

Bingham led 8-1 at one stage in his first-round win over 2006 world champion Graeme Dott – which ended in as a nerve-wracking 10-9 victory.

Ballrun said: “I think 8-1 was flattering and then we had the second session when he just took the game to me.

“I didn’t really get much of a chance in the first four frames and I think I was lucky to go 9-4 up instead of 8-5.

“And everyone knows what happened after that. I had a couple of chances to wrap it up and in the end managed to hold it together to win the decider.”

Bingham lost frame 16 after three consecutive misses and admits it was a moment to forget.

He said: “That more or less summed up what was happening on that night. I’ve never done it before. Normally if you miss twice you just make sure you hit the ball on the third shot.

“But wherever I was going I was leaving a red on so I thought I would just try to hit the red half ball and leave the white on the top cushion.

“As I’ve hit it I don’t know if I’ve just cued across the white or it has rolled off a little bit or what. But I knew as the ball was half way down the table I could be in trouble here.”

Bingham and fellow pros are now waiting to see the new calendar for next season from World Snooker, which is due out next week, but is likely to return to action in a qualifier in early June.