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Bingham: Crucible buzz always gives me ‘butterflies’

Listen to Bingham’s interview ahead of the 2017 World Championship by clicking here.

STUART BINGHAM admits he still gets “butterflies” every time he walks out at the Crucible to stake his claim to be a sporting world champion.

Ballrun, 40, was 23 years-old and world ranked 92 when he made his debut at the home of snooker in the year 2000.

Since then has qualified to break off at the famous venue nine times – memorably winning the title in 2015 with victory over Shaun Murphy in the final – and is now world No 3 and a married father-of-three.

But ahead of the start of his latest tilt at the crown this Sunday, he says the thrill of stepping out in Sheffield is as great as ever.

Bingham said: “When I think about the walk-out it gives you butterflies.

“Above my table at home I have a nice mural of me there in the semi-finals and it gives me butterflies thinking I am going to play there in a couple of days’ time. It’s brilliant and I can’t wait.”

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Bingham: China was a fun trip but I did not click against Wilson

STUART BINGHAM says it was a typically enjoyable trip to China even though he never really felt his game clicked before a last 16 defeat to Kyren Wilson.

The world No 3 is a firm fans’ favourite in East Asia and was happy to again sample the culture as he took part in this year’s China Open.

Ballrun, who beat Scotland’s Scott Donaldson (5-3) and Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham (5-2) before a 5-2 defeat to fellow Englishman Wilson in Beijing, admitted: “To be honest I did not feel I played that well in the first two matches even though I had little spurts of form in frames here and there.

“And I got found out really against Kyren. From 2-2 to 4-2 down I missed one chance where I was in the balls and should not have missed. And he punished me fully for it.”

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Bingham: Donaldson has found his feet on Tour so will be a tough test in China

STUART BINGHAM says he has been impressed with Scott Donaldson’s progress this season and is braced for a tough test against the young Scot at the China Open.

Donaldson (pictured), who has just turned 23, enjoyed the best result of his career last month when he beat China’s Zhou Yuelong 5-0 to reach the semi-finals of the Welsh Open.

And although he lost to Judd Trump, who in turn lost to Bingham in the final, Donaldson collected £20,000 in prize money which saw him move up from 77 to 67 in the world rankings.

Donaldson also beat Bingham 4-3 in a European Masters qualifier in September and Ballrun is preparing for another battle when they square off in Beijing on Monday, March 27.

Bingham said: “Him getting to the last four of the Welsh Open shows he is starting to find his feet on Tour.

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Stuart Bingham comment on betting investigation

STUART BINGHAM has admitted to breaking World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) rules on betting on matches involving other players.

The world No 3 found out in December that allegations were being investigated by Nigel Mawer, the chairman of the WPBSA’s disciplinary committee.

And in a follow up meeting with Mawer in January, Bingham confirmed he had placed accumulator bets on the outcome of other matches because he did not know it was against the governing body’s rules to do so.

Bingham is now awaiting the conclusion of the investigation before he discovers the penalty.

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Coventry clashes were good preparation for Llandudno

STUART BINGHAM says his solid showing in the Championship League over the past week was the ideal preparation heading into this month’s Players Championship in Llandudno (March 6-12).

Ballrun progressed from Group 6 with three wins from six in Coventry and then won six out of six in Group 7 to move into a semi-final with Mark Selby.

And although he missed out on a final with John Higgins and the chance to secure a place in the Winners’ Group after a 3-2 defeat to the world No 1, Bingham was happy to get some solid match practice.

He said: “I’ve gone through the group stage yesterday with six out of six and played some good stuff and against Selby it just came down to one error in the decider and he cleared up.

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Welsh win felt almost as good as the worlds

STUART BINGHAM said his Welsh Open win felt almost as sweet as becoming world champion after taking his first title for two years with a nail-biting victory over Judd Trump in the final in Cardiff.

Ballrun was 4-0 up but trailed 8-7 heading into an epic finale before steeling himself to level with a brilliant clearance which concluded with a gutsy double on the pink and a celebratory fist-pump (pictured below).

BinghamFistPumpWelshOpen

The Basildon star, 40, then kept his nerve with a match-winning clearance in the decider to add the coveted Home Nations title to his 2011 Australian Goldfields Open crown, the 2014 Shanghai Masters title and, of course, his fairytale 2015 World Championship triumph at the Crucible.

It was a sweet moment for Bingham, whose wife Michelle had surprised him by traveling up to the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff with their new baby girl Marnie to see him win the £70,000 prize.

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Hamilton success is richly deserved

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.

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Bingham hopes to take charge in Wattana clash

STUART BINGHAM says he will be looking to take charge of his match with veteran James Wattana this week at the China Open Qualifiers.

Ballrun’s clash with one-time world No 3 Wattana, 46, is scheduled to get underway at 2.30pm on Thursday (January 26) at the Guild Hall.

The China Open will be in Beijing between March 27 and April 2 and is the last counting tournament before seeding for the World Championship is determined.

Thailand’s Wattana, a three-time ranking title winner and a pioneer for Asians in the elite snooker game, now gets wildcard places at events on the World Snooker Tour.

Bingham said: “I’m not sure how active he is now on the Tour but I’ve seen he has picked up a few results in recent years so I’ll give him every respect.

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Baby Marnie’s arrival means I’m ready for the Masters, Bingham

STUART BINGHAM says the birth of his daughter this weekend has given him a great boost and refreshing perspective heading into his Masters opener against Joe Perry on Monday evening.

Snooker’s world No 2 and wife Michelle welcomed 8lb 2oz Marnie Rose Bingham into the world at Basildon Hospital at 5.26pm on Saturday. Mum and baby are doing well and due to be back home in Basildon early on Sunday evening.

Ballrun said: “I’ve been waiting for the baby to arrive since the Scottish Open last month really, so things have been a bit up in the air.

“So it has been really handy having the snooker room at my home because it has meant I can look after Michelle and then pop out for some practice when I can.

“And although the baby was late, there were no complications and it was a very emotional and special day for me and our family.

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Bingham all ready for a night at the darts

STUART BINGHAM is looking forward to one of his guilty pleasures today as he makes what has become an annual trip to the World Darts Championship.

Snooker’s world No 2, who has been a big fan of the arras for over a decade, will take a seat in the VIP section at Alley Pally to watch some of the game’s greats battle it out from the oche.

Ballrun, who started going to the event when it was staged at the Circus Tavern in Purfleet in 2004, said: “I was actually going to give it a miss this year and just watch it on the telly because my wife Michelle is heavily pregnant.

“But my manager Gary asked if I was going to contact them so I sent them an email and they were kind enough to offer me a ticket.