Stuart Bingham and Shaun Murphy will contest the final of the World Grand Prix on Sunday.
It marks the first time that the pair have met each other since their World Championship showdown at the Crucible ten months ago.
Bingham got the better of the 2005 champion in a close encounter to become the world champion for the first time.
The 39 year-old has since struggled to cope with the burden of inevitable expectation surrounding a world champion but this week he has grown in stature in Llandudno.
He was embroiled in a tight semi-final battle with fellow Englishman Joe Perry on Saturday, a tie that went the distance before ‘Ballrun’ secured the victory with a break of 69 in the last.
Even if Bingham doesn’t claim the title, he can at least be content with the fact that he has finally performed this season, an added bonus being that it has occurred on ITV where more people in the UK have the opportunity of watching.
Of course, the three-time ranking event champion wont be pleased with just a runner-up spot and he’ll be giving it his all to add to his trophy collection.
It’s incredible to think that, at the outset of the Barry Hearn era in 2010, Bingham had zero professional titles to his name despite an already long career.
Since then he has accumulated seven, including obviously the big one in Sheffield last year.
Murphy, meanwhile, has been suffering from a mini drought – failing to capture any crown since emerging victorious in the Masters at the start of 2015.
The 33 year-old has appeared in three finals since but has been on the receiving end in all of them.
Murphy came from 3-2 down against Ding Junhui on Saturday, reeling off the last four frames for a 6-3 triumph.
While it’s a completely different tournament and it doesn’t come close to equating in importance with the World Championship, Murphy will surely be seeking a modicum of revenge for that painful 18-15 defeat to Bingham last May.
Overall, their head-to-head would suggest that Murphy is the favourite with ten victories out of 14 meetings, although quite a lot of those were in the short format Championship League.
Several of those wins also came many years ago and, as proven, Bingham is a completely different animal these days.
It’s a difficult one to call but if both are able to bring their A-games it could be a cracking tie that will possibly go the distance.
In a best of 19 clash there will be plenty of opportunities for twists and turns but establishing a lead from the opening session is surely the primary objective for both.
Hopefully this World Grand Prix, which has again proved a hit, will conclude with a dramatic tussle.
Categories: Snooker News