Stuart Bingham enjoyed a landmark moment back in January, winning his maiden Dafabet Masters title and lifting the Paul Hunter Trophy for the first time.
Bingham fought out an enthralling final with fellow Essex cueist Ali Carter to win 10-8 and leave Alexandra Palace with the title and the £250,000 top prize.
The 2015 World Champion now requires only the UK Championship to complete his Triple Crown title collection. It’s been a dramatic rise to the top for Bingham, who turned pro in 1995 and had to wait until the 2011 Australian Open for his first ranking silverware.
Bingham, who in all has amassed six ranking titles, believes that if he can win the UK Championship it would be a defining moment in his career.
“I don’t need any extra motivation. I try to win any tournament I play in. I will be trying as hard as I can to get my hands on that UK Championship trophy though,” said 43-year-old Bingham.
“If I could get that Triple Crown status then it would round off a perfect career for me. Considering how long it took me to win my first trophy, to get my hands on that Triple Crown would be an absolute honour.”
Bingham’s Alexandra Palace victory had looked to be in jeopardy during the final. He led 5-3 after the first session, but a relentless burst from Carter at the start of the evening’s play wrested the momentum. The Captain led 7-5 and had looked on course for victory, before Bingham turned the tide once more to secure the win.
“I came out in the evening and it felt like I had someone else’s arm. I couldn’t move and sometimes I didn’t even hit the right side of the ball. I was down and out at the interval and starting to think of what to say when Ali won.
“I just think I more or less gave up. In previous rounds I had late night finishes, then post match interviews and I struggled to sleep for excitement of the next matches. Everything had taken its toll. The fact I had almost given up in my mind meant I relaxed. Before I knew it I was back at 7-7 and all of a sudden everything clicked into gear and I was more confident.
“I tried to enjoy myself and embrace the atmosphere throughout the event. Small things like high fiving the crowd made a massive difference. I was determined just to enjoy it and see how far I got, as I didn’t have a very good record at the Masters in the past. That might well have been the key to me getting my hands on the trophy.
“It was shown again on Eurosport the other night, as they are playing previous finals with the current lockdown. My wife was asking if we could put a film on, but I just said we were nearly at the end! That was about the tenth time I’ve watched it back since and it brought a tear to my eye again. It was an emotional win with all of my family being there.”
The current difficult lockdown situation which faces the country presents many challenges. However, it also provides an opportunity for reflection and trying new things. Bingham has been considering playing with glasses for a period of time and is now thinking about using the coming weeks to give them a test run.
“I’ve actually had some glasses made. Before the Masters I was trying out contact lenses and I decided they weren’t really working. I definitely need reading glasses so I think I will give playing with them a go. I’m going to have some time off with my family then start practising in the glasses to see how they are. I am very fortunate to have a snooker room in my garden and be able to play. A lot of players won’t have access to that. It is a very tough time for everyone.”
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