Bingham produced one of the best performances of his career
Stuart Bingham reached the semi-finals of the Betfred World Championship for the first time with a shock 13-9 victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan.
O’Sullivan will now need to win the title twice in his 40s if he is to match Stephen Hendry’s record of seven Crucible crowns. The Rocket was heavy favourite before the tournament but produced only brief spells of brilliance in his first two matches, and was second best against world number ten Bingham.
Basildon’s 38-year-old Bingham cried tears of joy in his dressing room after the match having scored one of his best career wins on the biggest stage, and earned a place in the one-table set-up in Sheffield – having lost to 13-4 O’Sullivan on his only previous appearance in the quarter-finals, two years ago. He meets Judd Trump next.
“It’s just unbelievable,” said Bingham, who has won three titles this season including the Shanghai Masters. “I’m so looking forward to tomorrow now. I had to go into my dressing room just now to give myself five minutes. I had a little tear, rang the wife and couldn’t really speak. It’s a brilliant win for me.”
For many years, Bingham was considered something of a journeyman, as he had never won a ranking title or climbed into the top 16 until his landmark triumph at the 2011 Australian Goldfields Open. Since then, he has become a regular tournament winner and a fixture among the top ten, though to beat O’Sullivan at the Crucible represents another huge leap forward for the likeable Basildon potter.
The last time these two met was at the World Grand Prix last month when O’Sullivan cruised to a 6-0 win in the semi-finals. This time, Bingham was a different proposition.
Bingham crucially won the last frame of the afternoon session to be tied at 8-8 going into tonight’s conclusion. UK Champion O’Sullivan took the opening frame tonight with a break of 65 to go ahead, but remarkably failed to win another.
Shrugging off pressure and showing his break-building class, Bingham fired in 74, 88, 51, 85 and 66 to reel off five in a row in less than an hour.
Bingham added: “I didn’t play great in the first two sessions, but when it counted I produced my best. I made a good clearance to make it 8-8 this afternoon, so I come out firing on all cylinders tonight. I knew if I could keep with him then I could give him a game.
I’ve got a hard game now with Judd, he seems to be flying out of his boots so it’ll be tough. I’m still in it and I’ve got a chance.
“I hope the occasion don’t get on top of me. Hopefully I actually get some sleep tonight then come out tomorrow and just enjoy it.”
O’Sullivan said: “Stuart has been playing some great snooker for the last four or five years. Tonight he was fantastic and there wasn’t a lot I could do. I was just way off the pace and he just pushed me around. I felt the second best player all the way through the match.
“I was outplayed, it was there for everyone to see. I was trying my hardest out there but you can’t start looking for form. I made so many unforced errors and these days you get punished by all the players because they’re really sharp.
“Stuart’s got a chance against Judd. You’d have to make Judd favourite but I don’t think Stuart will be fazed by it. He just loves playing and even if he was 17-0 down he’d still enjoy playing, he’s just that type of guy.”
O’Sullivan turns 40 in December