Maximum man Stuart Bingham has Stephen Hendry in his sights after kicking off his Masters defence with a nervy 6-4 win over Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, writes Will Jennings.
The world No.12 suffered a spout of finish line jitters at 5-1 up but eventually held his nerve to dash the Thai’s hopes in Milton Keynes.
Bingham struck a second 147 break in the space of two months at the Championship League week – also against Un-Nooh – and had a chance for another at 5-1 up against the world No.16.
He failed to convert it but the 2015 world champion still lies fourth on the all-time maximum list – on eight – behind Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Hendry.
Bingham is just three behind seven-time world champion Hendry and the 44-year-old said: “It may have been a bit mad at 5-1 up to go for the max, but the way I’m playing at the moment I feel like I had a good shout.
“I went for it after potting the first black, got the nice cannon on the red and it left me a chance. I thought if I have a go at this it’d be nice, but I was a but unfortunate.
“It comes in spells. I had one just before Christmas in the UK [Championship] and then literally last week in the Championship League against Thepchaiya.
“I was thinking it was a good omen! I used to make loads when I was practicing against people – it just comes through spells.
“I probably won’t even think about it for the next six months, but when the chance presents itself I don’t shy away from it.
“It would be nice to get to ten, double figures. And then if I get to ten, I’m sure I’ll try and beat Hendry’s record.
“Ronnie’s a bit untouchable, and Higgins is on 11 as well. It’s one of those things – I’ve always been a break builder and I don’t shy away from it when it presents itself.”
Six-time Crucible king O’Sullivan has struck an imperious 15 maximum breaks and holds the record for the fastest ever one – with all 36 balls potted in just five minutes and eight seconds.
Bingham notched the seventh of his career against Zak Surety in the UK Championship before doubling up in rapid time against Un-Nooh last week.
He was unable to clinch a stunning 2020-21 treble but the six-time ranking event winner did make a fine visit of 114 in the third frame as he raced into the lead.
The reigning Masters champion also enjoyed four half-century visits and while Un-Nooh showed some late resistance at the Marshall Arena, the 2019 Shoot Out champion was unable to complete a roaring comeback.
Bingham will continue his title defence against either veteran Mark Williams or 2005 world champion Shaun Murphy on Thursday.
The two players face off in the first round on Monday night and Bingham, who memorably soared to Alexandra Palace glory this time last year, knows whoever he faces will prove a stern test.
“I felt good. At 5-1 I felt really comfortable out there and that was why I obviously went for the max,” he added.
“I thought my long game was pretty good and my safety has been on it. You don’t get any easy games – at 5-1 up it can easily slip, so whoever I play on Thursday, Mark Williams or Shaun Murphy, will be a tough game.”
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