Stuart Bingham fired three consecutive centuries as he moved into the last 32 of the BAIC Motor China Open with a 5-3 win over Sam Baird in Beijing.
This is Bingham’s last chance to go into the defence of his World title next month with a trophy under his belt this season, though he did come close to the title at the recent World Grand Prix, losing 10-9 to Shaun Murphy in the final.
And the Basildon cueman looked sharp as he came from 2-0 down to beat Baird. Breaks of 78, 143, 119 and 109 put him 4-2 up, and though Baird won the seventh frame, Bingham secured victory in the next. He now meets Ian Burns who whitewashed Peter Ebdon 5-0 with a top break of 135.
“I played with freedom and produced some good snooker,” said world number two Bingham. “I felt a bit tight towards the end so it was good to get over the line. I came out to China early and played a couple of exhibition matches so that has helped me, even though I am not sleeping great.
“I’ve got a chance of finishing the season at world number one and maybe that’s why I’ve struggled a bit this year. It would be great to do that. If I can get to the quarter-finals here that would be a good week.”
Kyren Wilson kept alive his bid of gaining a top 16 place this week – and therefore an automatic place at the World Championship – as he beat Tom Ford 5-3 with a top break of 78. Wilson currently stands 18th on the projected rankings but a run to the semi-finals this week could be enough to earn him a spot at the Crucible.
Ryan Day is also in contention for a top 16 place, though he must at least reach the final, and he came from 2-0 and 4-3 down to beat Dechawat Poomjaeng 5-4 thanks to a break of 69 in the decider.
Teenage talent – Yuan Sijun
Promising 15-year-old amateur Yuan Sijun, competing as a wild card, scored a shock 5-0 win over world number 13 Martin Gould, making breaks of 51, 102 and 55.
“I felt good in general and my opponent left chances for me so I managed to make some decent breaks,” said Yuan. “My coach told me that I needed to work on clearing the colours and long potting and I think it worked.
“My parents are not with me here because their presence would have made me nervous, which has happened before. Two wins in a row is a breakthrough for me.”
Scotland’s Rhys Clark edged out Mark Davis 5-4 thanks to a run of 67 in the deciding frame.
“Mark’s the highest ranked player I have beaten,” said tour rookie Clark. “I got one chance in the decider and made a good break. This gives me a lot of confidence for this week and the World qualifiers.”
Marco Fu impressed in a 5-2 win over Yu Delu, compiling runs of 123, 64, 115, 111 and 68, while Mark King top scored with 99 in a 5-2 win over Ali Carter.