Stuart Bingham summoned a crucial break of 70 in the final frame to edge out Asian number one Ding Junhui 10-9 at the Betfred World Championship.
The pair played out a keenly contested afternoon session, which saw Ding peg 2015 World Champion Bingham back to 9-9 after trailing 9-8. It was at that point that they were pulled off to allow the evening session to get underway.
When play resumed it was Ding who had looked set to seal a huge victory. However, the 14-time ranking event winner broke down on a run of 45 after missing a cut back red. That allowed Essex cueman Bingham back to the table and he pounced with that break of 70 to cross the line and book a second round encounter with Jamie Jones.
Defeat for Ding sees his quest to become Asia’s first World Champion pushed back at least another year. The 34-year-old reached the final in 2016, but lost out to Mark Selby.
Bingham arrived at the Crucible battle hardened following last week’s qualifying event, where he beat Luca Brecel in the final round. That was the first time Bingham has required the qualifiers since 2011. He dropped out of the world’s top 16 this term after a difficult season, which has only seen him reach one ranking quarter-final.
“I’m over the moon to get through that game, it was a classic match. I was gutted to get pulled off at 9-9, but it probably did us both a favour to chill out for a few hours. The first eight or nine minutes of that deciding frame had some unbelievable safety. We weren’t giving each other a chance,” said 44-year-old Bingham. “Luckily for me, he missed after he got in and I produced one of my best 70 breaks and one of the best at the Crucible Theatre.
“It’s going to be tough against Jamie Jones. It’s his first season back on and he is probably playing the best snooker of his life. After what he went through and coming through Q School straight away, at the end of the year he is in the last 16 of the World Championship. He is going to be one hell of a tough player.”
On the other table, Barry Hawkins took a 6-3 lead over Matthew Selt, in a match which concludes on Wednesday from 7pm. Hawkins has a tremendous record at the Crucible having won his last ten consecutive first round matches at the venue, and he reached the final in 2013. Selt, by contrast, is yet to win a match at the Theatre of Dreams.
Hawkins took the first three frames with a top break of 91 before Selt won the fourth on the final pink. Frame five went the way of Hawkins and he took the sixth on the final black after Selt had missed a straight-forward pot to a top corner.
Selt won the seventh then a fine break of 137 from Hawkins gave him a 6-2 advantage. By clearing from the final red, Selt won the last frame of the session to raise his hopes of a fight back.