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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 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 has criticised the decision to give World Championship runner-up Ding Junhui a spot at this year’s Champion of Champions – ahead of World Seniors champion Mark Davis.

Mark Selby’s win at the Paul Hunter Classic means there are only five tournaments left for a player to secure one of the three remaining spots out of 16 at the £100,000 event in Coventry in early November.

There are 24 qualification spots available and if one player occupies more than one – as is the case with the top two, which are occupied by defending Champion of Champions winner and UK Championship title holder Neil Robertson – another spot becomes available (the current list is set out above).

It means Davis faces a nervy wait over the next couple of months, while Ding - who lost to Mark Selby in the final at the Crucible in May - is guaranteed his place. 

It also means Bingham’s chances of getting a spot through his ranking as World No 2 are over.
 

Ball Run explained: “A few years ago when Ding won five tournaments they only had 14 champions for 16 spots and Shaun Murphy and Mark Davis qualified through the rankings, I think. 

So in early August it looked like there needed to be a few different winners from then, to stop me getting in as the world No 2. So it looked like I had a good chance.
 

Read more: Bingham critical of Ding call at Champion of Champions

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

STUART BINGHAM faces ­another 'Battle of Es­sex' at the Paul Hunt­er Classic - and this­ time he is determined to claim the bragging rights.

Ball Run was knocked ­out by Ali Carter in ­the last ranking event as the Chelmsford-based pro went on to record a memorable title win at the World Open in China.

Carter will be at the­ Stadthalle in German­y to defend his Paul ­Hunter Classic crown ­too, but it is Southe­nd's Sydney Wilson, 2­6, who will be Bingha­m's first opponent ea­rly on Saturday afternoon (August 27).

Wilson is world ranke­d 87 and learnt his trade u­nder the late Vic Har­ris, who also helped ­world No 2 Bingham wi­th his game at the st­art of his career.

Bingham said: "I know­ Sydney a little bit ­and I think he practi­ses at Ali Carter's c­lub in Witham now.

"He has had some good­ results and there wi­ll be a bit of local ­rivalry there again, b­ut I feel it is one I­ should win if I play­ my A-Game.

Read more: Bingham ready for Essex derby with Wilson

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