STUART BINGHAM admits there are probably 60 other top-ranked players he would rather face this evening at the BetVictor Welsh Open than the dangerous Anthony Hamilton.
World champion Bingham beat world No 68 Hamilton twice in December – at the UK Championships and then at the German Masters Qualifiers – but on both occasions the Essex pro was impressed by his rival’s performance.
Bingham, whose match in Cardiff gets underway at 8pm, said: “I spoke to Anthony at the Shoot-Out and we said we had probably not played each other for about five years and now we will have played three times in as many months.
“I’ve said before I don’t think his ranking reflects his ability and there are probably 60 players in the top 64 I would rather play than him at the moment.
“He was in a record-breaking match with Kyren Wilson last week when they made six tons in six frames between them so I know how dangerous he is. But I am ready for the challenge.”
Bingham arrives in Wales on the back of an unlucky exit at the fast-paced Shoot-Out tournament at the Hexagon in Reading, which saw Robin Hull claim the £32,000 top prize on Sunday night.
World No 47 Rod Lawler took advantage of an outrageous fluked red to get started and made a match-winning 60 to make a mockery of Bingham’s Ball Run nickname (you can watch footage of the frame here).
Bingham said: “It’s just one of those things but that event is the last place you need it to happen against you!
“I lost last year to Jamie Jones when he fluked a ball against me so maybe next year I’ll get the rub of the green!
“But I was having some fun with the crowd and I thought the Hexagon was a good venue."
Bingham started February with a last 16, 5-3 defeat to Ryan Day after an opening round 5-2 victory over Fergal O’Brien at the German Masters.
He said: “In both matches I started well but lost concentration. I got over the line against Fergal and at 3-3 with Ryan I think his highest break was 38 but he went on to make two 60s.
“The way the tournament opened up I am a bit disappointed because it is one I felt I could have gone further in.
“But it was good to see my SightRight stable-mate Martin Gould winning the title because he has been knocking on the door for a few years now.”
After the Welsh Open, Bingham is next in action at in Championship Group League 7 at Crondon Park in Essex between February 29 and March 1.
Ball Run also now knows he will start his China Open campaign in Beijing in March against world No 67 Cao Yupeng.
Away from the table, Bingham was awarded “the freedom of Basildon” by the local council this month in recognition of his world title win at the Crucible last year (you can read full details here).
Bingham said: “It means I get to go to vote on some council matters I think – I was hoping it meant I got free parking to be honest!
“But seriously, I am proud to represent the area and this is a great honour.”