STUART BINGHAM says he would love to see his old amateur rival Marco Fu replace him as snooker’s world champion this year.
Ball Run won the world amateur title in 1996 then lost that crown following an 11-10 defeat in the final in Zimbabwe to Fu the following year.
And after his Crucible win in 2015, Bingham pointed out the symmetry of their progress to Fu and suggested it was only reasonable to assume his own 19-year wait to win the big one would end in 2016.
Bingham said: “I spoke to Marco at the Crucible last year and said it would be his turn next year, and I hope that is right because he is an unbelievable talent and a really nice guy.
“And there is no reason why he can’t win it. He found some good form before Christmas and after the way he beat Peter Ebdon in the first round he looks like he is in the mood to do well.”
Fu is currently locked in a semi-final battle with Mark Selby for the right to face Ding Junhui in the final after he saw off Alan McManus 17-11 in the other last-four match.
At 38, Bingham became the oldest first-time winner of the world title last year and he revealed he has been playfully ‘accused’ on Twitter of inspiring 45-year-old McManus’ brilliant run this year.
The Basildon pro also admits he would settle for either of the Chinese stars now taking his world title – in fact anyone as long as it is not Selby!
Bingham explained: “Selby would have to win the final to stop me ending the year as world No 1. Shaun Murphy could have stopped me by reaching the final, but he went out in the first-round.
“Of course I would have liked to have cemented my place as world No 1 with results and some of those first-round exits early in the season did hurt.
“But I reached the final of the World Grand Prix and also three semi-finals and a quarter-final this season, so it has not been all bad.
“Shaun Murphy had not got past the quarter-final stage this season until he won in Llandudno and I think people can often forget success is about more than just winning titles.
“If I can finish the season as world No 1 that would be great, I'd certainly take it. And it would be a nice feeling going into next season and I’ll be doing everything I can to stay there.”