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Bingham looking forward to latest Ronnie battle despite cabin fever in Milton Keynes

STUART BINGHAM is looking forward to his latest battle with Ronnie O’Sullivan during the next stage of snooker’s Championship League tomorrow (June 8).

Ball-Run progressed after topping Group 1 following a 3-0 win over Jamie Clarke, and two 2-2 draws with Jordan Brown and Ricky Walden.

The world No 13 is now through to a winners’ Group C on Tuesday where he will face O’Sullivan, Harvey Chandler and yet-to-be-confirmed winner of Group 6, which will be concluded today (June 8).

O’Sullivan has not lost a frame so far in a non-ranking event being played behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes due to the Covid-19 measures.

Bingham said: “It all still feels a little bit odd because I am one of these players who would normally always play in every event I can to keep my sharpness up.

“Playing the first three matches will help – after being in certain situations – and I’ve been practicing the past couple of days, but it does still feel a bit alien.

“I think it is different for everyone but you just have to try and find your feet when the matches start.

“Some players have been practicing throughout the lockdown and some might have only had a week or two since we learned about this tournament.

“You can put in all the hours on your own but when it comes to a match it is a bit different.

“I’m looking forward to tomorrow now and I was lucky enough to commentate on Ronnie’s last match. It looks like he is striking the ball well and he is a match for anyone, at any time.

“And when you are not sharp and you are playing someone like Ronnie it is going to be an uphill battle from the start.

“But you just have to keep your focus on your own game and play the shot in front of you.

“It got a bit twitchy at the end in my first group but hopefully I can avoid that again and put on a good show.”

The venue has an on-site hotel, allowing players and staff to be contained on the complex without having to leave, and everyone involved gets Covid-19 testing everyday.

Bingham added: “I came up last Tuesday to do some commentary work and it was a bit surreal.

“I was isolated and did the test – which wasn’t pleasant. I didn’t realise they could put something that far up your nose!

“You have to have it done when you come into the building, and that more or less made up my mind about staying here and not going home.

“Michele brought me up some more clothes and dropped it at the front door at the hotel, and they put it in an airlock and made sure it was all safe.

“And we are in what they call a bubble here. It means you are not allowed out of certain barriers and it is sign-posted where we can and can’t go.

“So there is a bit of cabin fever setting in. Especially after you have your test because after you are marched to your hotel room and you are not allowed out until you get the all-clear. You get the test done around 3-4pm and get the results between 11am and midday the next day.

“Luckily I signed up for Netflix a couple of weeks ago and it is just about keeping me sane. I’ve been watching The Last Dance and After Life, and I’d recommend both if people haven’t seen them.”

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Bingham planning to stay sharp for the Masters with table-time over Christmas

STUART BINGHAM says he plans to spend quite a bit of time on the practice table this Christmas in order to stay sharp for one of his favourite events of the season – the Masters.

Ball-run gets underway at the Triple Crown invitational against Mark Williams in the last of the first-round matches at 8pm on Wednesday, January 15.

Before that the Essex pro has qualifiers against Duane Jones in the European Masters (Dec 18) and Lu Ning (Dec 20) in the German Masters in Barnsley, and Bingham admits it will be a bit of a work-through for him in the festive period.

He said: “I’m going to keep playing through it with maybe a day off here and there, but I’ll keep playing.

“I think looking back I had too much time off in the summer. And I’ve never really done very well at the Masters, so I’d like to change that.

“I’ve got Mark Williams in my first match on the Wednesday night and to be honest that will be the longest I will have been in the Masters for a while because it is last up! So it will be nice to be there for longer than a day!

“So I’ll stay on the table as much as I can over Christmas, even if it is just an hour a day to keep my arm moving and then try and get some games in early January to gear up for the Masters.

“But I’m still looking forward to having a bit of time off with the kids and the family. We are going out locally for Christmas dinner this year. We normally have about 16-18 people round but Michelle didn’t want to do it this year so we decided to go out this time.”

Bingham enjoyed a three-match winning run at the UK Championship at the start of December against Lei Peifan (6-4), Martin Gould (6-4) and Zhao Xintong (6-1) before a 6-4 defeat to John Higgins, who also knocked him out of the World Open and Champion of Champions this winter.

But on Wednesday he suffered a frustrating early exit from the Scottish Open following a 4-2 defeat to Matthew Stevens.

After that match Bingham was subjected to dreadful online abuse from an internet troll in which the poster said highly distasteful things about his family.

Ball-run, who re-posted the comment and tagged in World Snooker to highlight the problem, said: “Nine times out of ten with this sort of thing it is a guy who has bet on me at 2-0 up and I lose 4-2 and they take their frustrations out on social media.

“I realise that I am in the public eye and will sometimes get this sort of thing aimed at me, but when it is vile comments about your family and your kids that crosses a line.

“Normally I would just block them but in this case I tagged World Snooker in to let them know what players have to put up with.

“I also just like to make these idiots famous for a couple of days because I know that they get lots back off of everyone who can then see how poorly they conduct themselves online.”

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Bingham hoping to reproduce sensational form in Coventry clash with Higgins

STUART BINGHAM is looking to replicate some of the sensational form he showed at the World Open when he embarks on a bit of a “revenge” mission against John Higgins at the Champion of Champions this week.

Ball-Run caught the eye of the snooker world when he knocked in four tons to beat newly-crowned English Open champ Mark Selby 5-2 in China last week.

It came after scratchy wins over Nigel Bond (5-3) and Jimmy Robertson (5-3), and before a 5-2 last-eight defeat to Higgins, who Bingham will break off against in Coventry at 4pm this Thursday (Nov 7).

The 2019 Gibraltar Open champion said: “One shot changed the match against Selby, he went in off with a chance to go 3-0 up and something just clicked for me. I’ve never played that well in a nine-frame match before.

“I was just in the zone and everytime I went into the pack I got nice splits.

“I didn’t realise I’d made four tons until afterwards and I guess that is the best way to beat Mark Selby. After the way he played in the final at the English Open, I knew it would be tough.

“I’m not sure what clicked but I’d love to bottle it and replicate it all the time, starting in Coventry this week.”

Higgins lost a deciding frame in best-of-11 against eventual World Open champion Judd Trump in the last four.

Bingham added: “I shook John’s hand after our match and said I’d try and get my revenge at the Champion of Champions, and he had a little chuckle.

But I’m looking forward to it. We’ve both just got back from China and will be trying to get over jet-lag in the coming days.

“But Coventry always plays nice and the tables they use are quite generous I think, so hopefully it will be a good match – and a good result for me!”

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Bingham: Future of snooker in China looks very promising

STUART BINGHAM says it is great to see snooker flourishing in China after kicking off his Shanghai Masters campaign with an impressive win.

Ballrun had a 140 break as he beat 17-year-old Chinese amateur Fan Zhengyi at the game’s richest invitational this morning (Sep 10).

And Shaun Murphy’s withdrawal from the 24-man event – which has a prize fund of £725,000 – due to personal reasons means it has already guaranteed the Essex star a quarter-final spot.

Bingham, who won the Shanghai Masters in 2014 when it was a ranking event, said: “I think most of the tournaments from now on will grow in prize money so that’s great for the game and the players of course.

“But here in China, when one tournament makes the prize money big, the other tournaments seem to follow suit so the future of snooker in China is looking good.”

Ballrun arrived in China after a good display at the SangSom 6 Red World Championship in Bangkok, Thailand.

He topped group C, which contained James Wattana, Shachar Ruberg and Mark King, then beat Marco Fu 6-2 in the last 16, before a 4-6 defeat to eventual champion Kyren Wilson in the last eight.

Bingham said: It’s not nice losing but if you do to the eventual winner then it isn’t so bad.

Kyren went 2-0 up and I pulled him back to 2-2 but he won the next three and it was an up hill struggle from there.

“I got it back to 5-4 but he saw it through. But it is always a good tournament and I’ve made some great friends in Thailand so hope to go back next year.”

Bingham also admitted it was a relief to secure three important qualifier wins last month after a 4-1 Indian Open success against Chris Totten, 5-4 China Championship win over Craig Steadman, and 4-3 European Masters victory against Jamie Jones.

He added: “I was very relieved to get my season going after the disappointment of the first two tournaments.

“I played okay in three matches, scored well against Chris, and okay against Jamie Jones, but I felt that could have gone either way.

“My last match with Craig Steadman was a bit strange. He played well to go 4-2 up from 2-2 at the break and then I think I dragged him down because I haven’t got a clue how I won it eventually 5-4 on the final black.

“But those three wins have given me some momentum now for the upcoming tournaments and I look forward to go deep in few hopefully.”

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Bingham aiming to ‘hit the ground running’ in the next campaign after season to forget

STUART BINGHAM admitted it had been a season to forget despite some encouraging results – and vowed to “hit the ground running” in the next campaign.

Ballrun made the final of the European Masters in October, losing to Judd Trump, and the final of the Romanian Masters in March, where he lost out to Ryan Day.

After his return from a three-month suspension for breaking betting rules, the Basildon-based pro also made the quarter-finals of the Gibraltar Open and China Open this spring, and knocked in the fourth maximum of his career at the latter event.

But Bingham, who finished the term ranked world No 13, admits it was year he will want to forget overall.

He said: “It is hard to reflect on it without thinking about the ban, but what happened either side is positive for me.

“Working with Terry Griffiths this year was good and I look forward to doing that again next season.

“So I have things to work on and I am hoping to hit the ground running after having a little bit of time off.

“I’ve got some exhibitions over the next couple of weeks but I’ll just enjoy the time off with my family and spending some time at our caravan.

“So in terms of performances I think it was a good season really without the ban, which puts a sour taste on it.”

The 2015 world champion saw his tilt at snooker’s biggest prize in 2018 ended by a first-round 10-7 defeat to Jack Lisowski and felt he had just run into a man in great form.

He said: “I don’t think Jack could’ve played much better in the circumstances. It was an open game and he hardly missed a ball really, simple as that.

“I didn’t play badly but missed a couple of balls when it mattered, but all in all I just came up against someone who was hot on the day.”

Ballrun also praised the quality of this year’s Crucible final, which saw Welshman Mark Williams claim a thrilling victory over fellow veteran John Higgins.

He added: “The clearance John Higgins made at 17-15 was just unbelievable. And for Williams to then after that put together his break was just amazing.

“He’s obviously had a good season and topped it off with his third world championship, so well done to him.”

Bingham is now looking forward to a well-earned break from the game before returning to competitive action in a qualifier for the Riga Masters on July 2.

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Bingham: I broke the rules but never betted on my own matches – and I won’t appeal the suspension

STUART BINGHAM has issued the following statement on the decision of the WPBSA Disciplinary Committee on Monday, October 23, 2017:

“I accept entirely I have breached the Association’s Rules which relate to betting on snooker and I am truly sorry that I have done so. I did not attach sufficient importance to those rules and I now realise that was a mistake.

“I have never been and never will be involved in any form of match-fixing and I am grateful to the Association for confirming that there has never been any suggestion whatsoever that I was doing anything to influence match outcomes nor engaging in any corrupt activity.

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Bingham in China early to prepare for International Championship

STUART BINGHAM says he has flown out to China early to readjust to the conditions ahead of next week’s International Championship.

Ballrun will face fellow Englishman and world No 63 Robbie Williams in Daqing at the ranking event which will see the champion take home the £150,000 top prize.

Bingham said: “I think I played Robbie at this tournament before and he is starting to show what a good player he is at the moment.

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Bingham riding wave of good form into the English Open

STUART BINGHAM admits he is “riding a wave” of some excellent form at the moment and wants to use it to have an extended run at this week’s English Open. 

Ballrun beat Welshman Lee Walker 4-0 yesterday at the Barnsley Metrodome and will face the winner of today’s clash between Essex rival Mark King and China’s Fang Xiongman in his next match on Wednesday (October 18).

Bingham reached the final of the European Masters in Belgium earlier this month and since then recorded a 5-1 victory over promising German Lukas Kleckers in a qualifier for the Shanghai Masters.

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Bingham takes positives from run to final in Belgium

STUART BINGHAM felt he had an added to steel to his game in his run to the final of the European Masters in Belgium.

Ballrun lost 9-7 in a nip and tuck final to defending champion Judd Trump on Sunday evening in Lommel.

But wins over Mitchell Mann (4-2), Graeme Dott (4-0), home favourite Luca Brecel (4-2), world champion Mark Selby (4-2) and rising Chinese star Zhou Yuelong (6-4) gave the Basildon pro the belief that hard work with his new cue and new coach Terry Griffiths is now starting to pay dividends.

Bingham, who arrived back home at 5am this morning after getting the ferry back with his manager Gary Purkiss, said: “Of course I am disappointed because it does feel like another one that has gotten away.

“I think I have now lost in finals to Ricky Walden in the Wuxi Classic, Stephen Maguire at the Welsh Open, Shaun Murphy at the Grand Prix and Ronnie O’Sullivan in the Champions of Champions, and to John Higgins in an invitational, so I could easily have about eight titles now rather than four.

“But I have to be happy with the week over all and last night I out-scored Judd and I think he said he felt I outplayed him.

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Ballrun ready to weather The Storm

STUART BINGHAM is looking forward to facing his practice partner and friend Sean O’Sullivan in a qualifier tomorrow – and admits the young Londoner is an emerging talent.

World No 9 Bingham takes on the 23-year-old from Whitechapel on Tuesday (Sep 26) in Preston as he bids to secure a spot at November’s International Championship in China.

O’Sullivan (pictured), nicknamed The Storm, is in his fourth season on snooker’s top Tour and Ballrun knows he is not to be taken lightly.

He said: “I’m good friends with Sean, he has the support of a nice family and I regularly practice with him.

“He is improving all the time, he has a good cue action and a great long game that creates chances for him.

“He perhaps needs to work on his break-building a bit but he is a dangerous opponent for sure in a best-of-11 so I’ll have to be at my best.”