Bingham has really struggled under the weight of the crown this season and that more than any "Crucible curse" would have been his main concern as he headed towards Sheffield this week.With this in mind he would surely have preferred an easier opponent than Ali Carter against who he has very poor record.
His certainly wouldn't have felt any better early on as Carter won frame after frame to lead 5-1.Bingham though rallied to take the last three of the morning and finish the session just the one behind at 5-4.
That quickly became 5-5 when they resumed in the evening,but it was Carter who pulled away again to lead by three at 8-5 going to the interval.Things were now looking ominous for Bingham,but he wasn't going to give up his title without a fight & producing glimpses of the form that saw him lift the trophy last year he came back to draw level at 8-8 and then take the lead for the first time since the opening frame with a century to lead 9-8.
Carter was now looking jaded as his exertions in the qualifiers seemed to have left their mark,so its then all the more remarkable that he somehow managed to dig deep again to draw level at 9-9 with a break of 102.
Into that decider then and although he didn't clinch it in one visit a useful early visit from Carter with the balls going awkward was enough to give him the advantage he needed and he eventually got over the line to win 10-9.He'll now await the winner between the two Scots Maguire & McManus in the last 16 with McManus currently with the edge leading 6-3.
For Bingham it will be a case of looking forward to next season where he will hopefully find the freedom in his game again now unburdened by the responsibility of the title.One thing for certain though is that although he will no doubt be disappointed with how he played in his year as champion,he can certainly look back with pride a the way he represented crown.
In a new departure this year we had two matches finishing on the opening day and the other one was certainly a much more one sided affair as Marco Fu swept past Peter Ebdon 10-2.Fu was simply superb here & although possibly helped by an opponent in Ebdon who was drained from his tough week at the qualifiers, two centuries and four more 70 plus breaks speak volumes about how well he played
Fu can sit back tomorrow morning and watch Shaun Murphy & Anthony McGill fight it out for the right to face him in round two.Murphy holds a slender 5-4 after their first session this afternoon.
A dramatic day one then with two players safely through to the last 16 and they will be joined by two more tomorrow.Also of course in the afternoon we have the first appearance of Ronnie O'Sullivan.It'll be interesting to see just how up for a titl at a sixth title he is.