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STUART BINGHAM says it was a wrench to miss only his third tournament in five years this week - but admitted it was time to finally take a breather after a grueling couple of months on Tour.

Ballrun beat Neil Robertson (4-2) but lost his second match to Ding Junhui (6-4) at the Champion of Champions last week after driving to Coventry just 24 hours after arriving home from China.

And the world No 2, who had just lost to John Higgins in the China Championship final, admits the rigours of the Tour finally caught up with him against Ding and that is why he pulled out of this week's Coral Northern Ireland Open.

He said: "The last event I missed was the China Open when my father-in-law passed away in 2014 and the one before that was the Paul Hunter Classic in Germany five years ago when my son was born. I really don't miss many.

"But I realised at the Champion of Champions that I was just running on empty and needed to take a break so I took a week off completely and only started practicing again yesterday.

Read more: Bingham: Missing Belfast was tough - but I needed a break

STUART BINGHAM says he will be raring to go in his Champion of Champions opener against Neil Robertson - despite only stepping off a plane from the Far East 24 hours earlier!
 
A run to Saturday's final of the China Championship - and an eventual 10-7 defeat to John Higgins - meant Ballrun touched down in the UK yesterday and headed home to grab a night's sleep before he has to get on the road to Coventry to face the Aussie on Tuesday.
 
The gruelling schedule has been the price of success for Basildon pro Bingham this season with two semi-finals and two final appearances in the last four events.
 
But the world No 2 says he would have it no other way and will be ready to be a serious contender again for the coveted Champion of Champions title.
 
He said: "By the time I start against Neil I will have literally been home for 24 hours. I got in today and turned the telly on and they've just started playing.
 

Read more: Jet-setting Bingham ready for Coventry

STUART BINGHAM says it felt good to be a genuine contender for top titles again - despite two final-stage defeats during a grueling schedule in Asia last month.

After being pipped to the Six Reds crown by in-form Ding Junhui in a final at the start of the month, Ballrun lost a thrilling semi-final 6-5 to world No 1 Mark Selby at the Shanghai Masters at the end of September.

Bingham then had to immediately fly back to the UK for two sets of qualifiers in Preston, but has now had time to reflect on his near misses in Thailand and China.

He said: "It is a bit like pulling teeth against Mark, but it was another one that just got away.

"I was gutted to come up a little bit short - especially after the close defeat to Ding at the Six Reds - but I took the positives away.

"And it is nice to just be back in the later stages of the tournaments again.

Read more: Bingham happy to be back challenging for titles again

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.

Read more: Bingham: Liang was inspired – but I’m happy with my game right now

STUART BINGHAM says he will be honoured this week to play his part in the tenth anniversary celebrations of the Shanghai Masters.

Bullrun won the event in 2014 with a 10-3 final victory over Mark Allen and he was asked to take part in promotional work for its special occasion this summer.

The event will run from September 19-25 and Bingham starts on Wednesday (Sep 21) against Wales' world No 39 Jamie Jones. 

World No 2 Bingham said: "I was lucky enough this year to do some promotional work with the Shanghai Amateur Masters when I was invited out to China to see some of their emerging players. 

Read more: Bingham honoured to take place in Shanghai history

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