Liang Wenbo is through to the final of the Coral English Open, after fighting back to defeat Stuart Bingham in a 6-5 thriller.
In what was one of the matches of the year so far, Bingham only needed to win to ensure his place in next month’s Champion of Champions via the one year ranking list. Liang must win tomorrow’s final to clinch his place in Coventry.
The first mini-session saw the pair trade frames, with Liang making a run of 58 in the opener and Bingham responding with 66 in the second. They went into interval locked together at 2-2.
When the players returned, they produced a sensational session of play. At first, It looked as if Bingham was going to power to the finish line by asserting himself with first a run of 95, followed by a break of 89 to lead 4-2.
Liang, who is on the hunt for his maiden ranking title, refused to wilt under the pressure and hit back immediately with runs of 74 and 134. Bingham then produced a tonne of his own with a break of 116, before Liang made it three centuries in a row and leveled the scores at 5-5 with 138. The decider provided drama to match the preceding frames.
After a loose attempt to roll onto the pack from Bingham, the world number 20 Liang pounced by crunching a brilliant red into the yellow pocket. He went on to make 53 before missing a straightforward red to the middle. A safety battle ensued, which the Chinese potter eventually won. He punched the air with delight after making match ball and finished in style by clearing the table with 61 to win a brilliant encounter.
The Firecracker faces the small matter of attempting to end Judd Trump’s 14 match winning streak in tomorrow’s final and make himself the first ever name on the Steve Davis trophy.
Afterwards Liang said: “We both played very well. I really enjoyed it and I have to keep going and get ready for the final. I have a chance tomorrow, I’m going to try and get some good practice in beforehand and keep calm during the match.
Bingham was in an optimistic mood afterwards and recognised the standard of the match he had just been a part of, which contained 12 breaks over fifty in just 11 frames of play.
“Both of us scored very well from 2-2,” said Bingham. “It was just one of those things that Liang picked his game up from 4-2 down and he was unbelievable. I played my part in the match. I’m very disappointed to lose, but looking back that was a phenomenal game.”