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STUART BINGHAM says his solid showing in the Championship League over the past week was the ideal preparation heading into this month's Players Championship in Llandudno (March 6-12).

Ballrun progressed from Group 6 with three wins from six in Coventry and then won six out of six in Group 7 to move into a semi-final with Mark Selby.

And although he missed out on a final with John Higgins and the chance to secure a place in the Winners' Group after a 3-2 defeat to the world No 1, Bingham was happy to get some solid match practice.

He said: "I've gone through the group stage yesterday with six out of six and played some good stuff and against Selby it just came down to one error in the decider and he cleared up.

Read more: Coventry clashes were good preparation for Llandudno

STUART BINGHAM said his Welsh Open win felt almost as sweet as becoming world champion after taking his first title for two years with a nail-biting victory over Judd Trump in the final in Cardiff.

Ballrun was 4-0 up but trailed 8-7 heading into an epic finale before steeling himself to level with a brilliant clearance which concluded with a gutsy double on the pink and a celebratory fist-pump (pictured below).

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The Basildon star, 40, then kept his nerve with a match-winning clearance in the decider to add the coveted Home Nations title to his 2011 Australian Goldfields Open crown, the 2014 Shanghai Masters title and, of course, his fairytale 2015 World Championship triumph at the Crucible.

It was a sweet moment for Bingham, whose wife Michelle had surprised him by traveling up to the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff with their new baby girl Marnie to see him win the £70,000 prize.

Read more: Welsh win felt almost as good as the worlds

STUART BINGHAM says he will be looking to take charge of his match with veteran James Wattana this week at the China Open Qualifiers.

Ballrun's clash with one-time world No 3 Wattana, 46, is scheduled to get underway at 2.30pm on Thursday (January 26) at the Guild Hall.

The China Open will be in Beijing between March 27 and April 2 and is the last counting tournament before seeding for the World Championship is determined.

Thailand's Wattana, a three-time ranking title winner and a pioneer for Asians in the elite snooker game, now gets wildcard places at events on the World Snooker Tour.

Bingham said: "I'm not sure how active he is now on the Tour but I've seen he has picked up a few results in recent years so I'll give him every respect.

Read more: Bingham hopes to take charge in Wattana clash

STUART BINGHAM was thrilled to see Anthony Hamilton win his maiden ranking title - despite a grueling semi-final defeat to his friend at the German Masters.

Ballrun was out of sorts in the 6-4 loss in Berlin and the Sherriff of Pottingham, 45, went on to claim a memorable comeback win over Ali Carter in the following day's final.

World No 2 Bingham was not at his best but put in a solid week with wins over Alfie Burden (5-2), Yu Delu (5-3), Zhang Yong (5-3), David Gilbert (5-4) and the highly-rated Yan Bingtao (5-2) to reach the last four.

But after fighting back to 5-4 from 5-1 down against Hamilton, a mistake in his break-off in the tenth frame - when Bingham hit the blue - gave Hamilton a chance to close the match out.

Bingham said: "Beforehand I was in the toilets with Anthony as we were putting on our bow ties and I said, 'I hope you are as nervous as me?'. He said, 'Yeah, I'm twitching big time at the moment!'.

"Obviously playing in front of 2,500 people, and waiting around all day to play, made it hard to enjoy when it finally started.

"I was gutted with my own performance and put on Twitter that I was very disappointed. But I texted Anthony late last night to say I was well chuffed for him.

Read more: Hamilton success is richly deserved

STUART BINGHAM says the birth of his daughter this weekend has given him a great boost and refreshing perspective heading into his Masters opener against Joe Perry on Monday evening.

Snooker's world No 2 and wife Michelle welcomed 8lb 2oz Marnie Rose Bingham into the world at Basildon Hospital at 5.26pm on Saturday. Mum and baby are doing well and due to be back home in Basildon early on Sunday evening.

Ballrun said: "I've been waiting for the baby to arrive since the Scottish Open last month really, so things have been a bit up in the air.

"So it has been really handy having the snooker room at my home because it has meant I can look after Michelle and then pop out for some practice when I can.

"And although the baby was late, there were no complications and it was a very emotional and special day for me and our family.

Read more: Baby Marnie's arrival means I'm ready for the Masters, Bingham

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