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, 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.

"And with the good scalps he has taken this season and the way he is playing you have to say he can beat anyone on his day.

"He does not dominate matches but he has a solid and workmanlike game and I will need to be fully focused if I am to get past him."

Bingham's last competitive result was a 5-1 defeat to Anthony Hamilton in round two of the Players Championship in Wales on March 6.

The Sheriff of Pottingham also beat Ballrun 6-4 in an absorbing semi-final before going on to win his maiden ranking title at the German Masters at the start of February.

Bingham said: "He got a good start against me and made 131 in the first frame and he was clearly playing in a confident way after his tournament win.

"It was a defeat that hurt at the time but looking back on it I think I just have to accept he was playing very well."

Trump's £125,000 title win at the Players Championship saw him move up to world No 2 in the rankings and push Bingham down to third.

And Ballrun admits the Juddernaut might take some stopping at April's World Championships.

He said: "That was his third ranking final on the trot and he is in really great form after knocking on doors for a while now.

"Looking at how he is playing I don't know how I beat him at the Welsh Open because he seems to have found another gear.

"So he will be one of the big contenders at the Crucible but then there are probably six or seven - maybe even ten - who could win it. And for me, Mark Selby is still probably going to be the man to beat.

"But I am just focusing on my game. I don't think anyone has won in Beijing and then gone on to win the worlds but that will be my aim of course, although I'd happily take just one!"

* Bingham has admitted to breaking World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association rules on betting on matches involving other players and has now been told he will hear the outcome of its investigation at the end of the season.

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