In the opening round clash of the Cazoo World Championship at the Crucible Theatre, Stuart Bingham emerged victorious over David Gilbert with a scoreline of 10-4. Bingham has dominated Gilbert in all of their 12 meetings on the World Snooker Tour since their first encounter in 2005.
Bingham came into this tournament in need of a good performance, as he must reach at least the semi-finals to maintain his place in the top 16. The £100,000 he earned for reaching the semi-finals in 2021 is set to drop off his ranking, potentially causing him to drop out of the elite tier. Despite a difficult season so far, with only one ranking quarter-final at the WST Classic, Bingham did make it to the semis at the Masters back in January.
Gilbert, ranked 22nd in the world, reached the semi-finals in 2019 but has struggled at the Crucible since then, managing to win just one match. In the opening session yesterday, Gilbert got off to a quick start, leading 3-1, but he collapsed in the final frames, allowing Bingham to take the last five and lead 6-3 heading into today.
Gilbert won the opening frame this morning, but Bingham shut him out from that point onwards, firing in runs of 54, 55, 59, and 98 to win four straight frames and secure his progression. Bingham will now face either Mark Allen or Fan Zhengyi in the last 16.
Reflecting on his victory, Bingham admitted to feeling nervous in the morning session but managed to settle down after taking the second frame. He acknowledged the challenge of keeping a lead and learned from past mistakes of trying too hard to protect it. He approached today’s match with a best-of-seven mindset and focused on getting to four frames before Gilbert.
On the other table, Ding Junhui took a 5-4 lead over Hossein Vafaei in a closely contested match. Ding, who earned an automatic place at the Crucible as one of the 16 seeds, started strong with breaks of 56 and 72 to establish an early 2-0 lead. Vafaei fought back to level the match at 2-2 before Ding took a commanding lead with a break of 134. Vafaei showed resilience by taking two of the last three frames to end the day just one frame behind at 5-4. The match will conclude tomorrow morning at 10 am.
As a snooker expert, I believe Bingham’s victory over Gilbert was impressive, especially given the pressure he faced to maintain his place in the top 16. His experience and ability to handle nerves will serve him well in his upcoming match against either Allen or Zhengyi. The Ding-Vafaei match is evenly poised, and both players have shown glimpses of their talent. It will be interesting to see who can hold their nerve and come out on top in what promises to be an exciting conclusion to their match.