Bingham had never previously been beyond the quarter-finals at the Crucible
Stuart Bingham beat Judd Trump 17-16 in an incredible contest to reach the final of the Betfred World Championship.
One of the best ever Sheffield semi-finals ended with triumph for Bingham, a popular character who has won the hearts of many fans with an inspired run to the final, having never previously been past the last eight. He will face Shaun Murphy over 35 frames on Sunday and Monday for the coveted title and £300,000 top prize.
Basildon’s 38-year-old Bingham made his Crucible debut back in 2000 – beating Stephen Hendry – but spent many years as a journeyman before making a breakthough in 2011 by capturing the Australian Goldfields Open title and leaping into the top 16. Since then he has become a regular tournament winner and a fixture inside the top ten.
But the past fortnight has seen the Essex cueman climb to even greater heights, playing the role of giant-killer on the biggest stage, knocking out Ronnie O’Sullivan and now Trump. He will start underdog again against 2005 champion Murphy, but Bingham has the game and the self-belief to upset to cause another upset.
“At 16-16 the noise, the atmosphere and the adrenaline were brilliant,” said Bingham, who has won three titles this season. “To hold myself together in the end and to know I’m going to come out for the world final tomorrow is unbelievable. The emotions are flowing, I’ve had a few tears already. I’ve had 20 years of blood, sweat and tears, and now I’m just enjoying the experience.”
Trump may have seen this as a golden opportunity to reach a second world final, but struggled to produce his best in the first three sessions and never led after falling 3-2 behind. He found his rhythm during a remarkable final session but it proved just too little, too late.
Overall the match produced five centuries and 23 more breaks over 50; a wonderful treat of top class snooker. Trump trailed 13-11 going into the last session and lost the opening frame tonight after failing to cut a tough last red into a centre pocket. The left-hander hit back to take the next two with runs of 88 and 50.
Heavy blows were traded in the next five frames: Bingham made 106, Trump took the next with 76, Bingham’s 102 put him 16-14 ahead, only for Trump to roar back with 108 and 129 – bringing the tournament’s century tally to 80 – to set up the decider.
First chance went to Bingham but he could only make 12 before missing blue to centre. Trump potted red and blue but then under-cut a red to a top corner. Bingham’s 27 put him in control at 43-6. And after a bout of safety, Bingham cleverly planted a red into a top corner, and the 19 points he added were the most important of his career as he secured a final berth.
“It didn’t bother me when Judd came back at me,” said Bingham. “In the decider I just kept it tight. The plant on the red in the end, I knew if it went in then the frame was there for the taking. I have been positive for the last two weeks and I felt it was my chance.
When I turned pro 20 years ago I wanted to be World Champion. I’ve had a lot of scars from getting beat and a few things have happened off the table. I lost my father in law, Terry, last year and saw my wife go through that. This is for him, and for Vic Harris.
“In the last few years I’ve won two ranking events and I felt good coming into this tournament.
“It’s going to be tough against Shaun, he has played some great stuff from day one here. I’ve just got to try to take my chances for the next two days. It will mean everything if I can do it. I will enjoy every second of it.”
Trump said: “It’s tough to take because I got a kick on the red I missed in the last frame. I worked hard to get back into the game but it was so unlucky to get a kick at that moment. I felt very confident and relaxed, I was just hoping for one good chance.
“Stuart is clever with his shot selection and a lot of them went in over the three days. He played really well thoughout the match, he didn’t have a bad session and he did well in the last frame. He’ll be the underdog in the final but the crowd could spur him on.”
Trump was gracious in defeat