STUART BINGHAM admitted he just met a man playing "inspired" snooker after another near miss at the English Open – but says he is very happy with his own solid form heading into next week’s International Championship in China.
Ballrun lost a sensational 6-5 semi-final to Liang Wenbo, and the player they call the Firecracker went on to end Judd Trump’s 14-match winning run in Sunday’s final to win his maiden ranking title and the new Steve Davis Trophy - and secure his place at the Champion of Champions (CoC).
It means Bingham – who has made a final and two semis in the last three tournaments – now needs to win in China to secure his own CoC spot, although a good run and win for a champion who has already booked a spot is likely to be enough to earn the World No 2 his place at next month’s coveted event in Coventry.
Bingham’s English Open campaign began with a remarkable 4-3 comeback win over Robert Milkins and he says that reprieve made him feel like any other success in Manchester felt like a bonus.
He said: “I think 9,999 out of 10,000 times I was out in that situation against Milkins but he got a kick, things changed and I took advantage.
“So I just approached every other game like it was a bonus and I felt like I was playing well enough to win.
“But in Liang I just came up against a guy who was in inspired form. I’ve practised with him and I know he is a class act and he probably should have won an event ten years ago really.
“I watched him come back from 2-0 down to beat Ben Woollaston - who was playing very well himself - so I knew how well he was playing.
“But I played well until that last frame where there were some elementary errors from me.
“In one way it is nice to lose to the eventual winner but a Trump win would have secured my Champion of Champions spot, which I feel I have played well enough recently to have already earned.
“I’m still in with a good chance – I think I am £15,000 ahead of Joe Perry in the money list and if there is a repeat winner at the International Championship that should be enough.
“But I will just be focusing on taking my good form to China. It has just been down to hard work on the practice table - I felt my game came together in Thailand and it has just continued from there.”
Bingham flies to China today (October 17) to take part in a new promotion which will see fans given the chance to quiz their favourite snooker stars online about coaching, life on tour and their home lives. Details will be announced on Wednesday.
Ballrun beat Peter Lines 6-2 to qualify for the International Championship, which runs between October 23-30, and he will start against the winner of the match between Ross Muir and Zhang Jiakang.