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Bingham Edges Perry To Reach Final

Stuart BinghamStuart Bingham reached his first final since becoming World Champion by beating Joe Perry 6-5 in the semi-finals of the Ladbrokes World Grand Prix in Llandudno.

Bingham came from 3-0 down to win six of the last eight frames in an exciting content. Basildon’s Bingham won the world title for the first time last May and admits he has struggled to deal with the added expectation this season. So a deep run this week has given him a significant confidence boost ahead of the defence of his title in Sheffield, which starts next month.

Tomorrow he’ll battle for the £100,000 top prize against Shaun Murphy – who he beat in the Crucible final  – or China’s Ding Junhui. First to ten frames will take the title. Bingham will be aiming for the fourth ranking crown of his career – the other two coming at the 2011 Australian Goldfields Open and 2014 Shanghai Masters.

Perry, who had won his last four meetings with Bingham, dominated the early exchanges today and went 3-0 up with a top break of 82. Bingham gained a foothold in the match by winning the fourth frame with a double on the final brown to a centre pocket. He added the fifth with a break of 54 to close to 3-2.

In frame six, Perry trailed 33-60 when he potted the last red from distance and had a chance to clear, but missed a tricky final pink to a baulk corner, allowing Bingham to pot it to square the match. Perry might have cleared from 60-0 down in the seventh but missed the final black on 62, but this time Bingham couldn’t take advantage and Perry potted a long black to regain the lead.

Back came Bingham with a 97 to make it 4-4. Perry’s 53 helped him win the ninth, then Bingham took the next in three scoring visits for 5-5.

World number two Bingham had first chance in the decider and made 29 before missing a red to a top corner. Perry had a chance of a tricky red to the other top corner, but it rattled in the jaws and that proved his last shot as Bingham added 69 to book his final place.

“It means a lot to me to reach my first final of the season,” said 39-year-old Bingham. “I was nearly welling up as I potted the last few balls. It feels like my game is coming back to what it was at Sheffield last year. The Crucible will bring different pressures but for now I’m just happy to be doing well here.

“At 3-0 things weren’t going to plan. I was missing a few easy pots and Joe was getting the run of the ball. He has got an aura about him when he’s playing well and he was controlling the match. I won a massive frame to go 3-1 and then I came out after the interval more determined. I played really well from 3-3.”

Bingham has been suffering from a cold since Thursday and only slept for a few hours last night. “I was feeling a bit better today but I’m still sweating during matches,” he said. “I’ve been up since 4am because I was excited about the match. Hopefully I’ll have a good rest tonight.”