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.