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.”
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.