SUNDAY’s Welsh Open final will have an England versus Scotland theme after Stuart Bingham and Stephen Maguire booked their places in the final with hard-fought semi-final wins.
Bingham will be bidding for his second major ranking title after ending Ding Junhui’s hopes of defending the Welsh Open trophy he won last year after a thrilling 6-5 victory.
The Basildon potter, who won the Australian Open in 2011, made a great start in his bid to reach Sunday’s final by winning the first two frames.
Ding won the third frame with runs of 48 and 56 but Bingham restored his two-frame advantage at the mid-session interval thanks to a break of 74.
Trailing 3-1, Ding responded in positive fashion after the restart as a break of 72 reduced his deficit to 3-2. But Bingham edged closer to victory in the sixth frame when Ding missed a red to the centre allowing him to clear for a 4-2 lead.
A break of 67 from the China star helped him win frame seven before he pulled level to 4-4 winning a scrappy frame after Bingham missed the final green.
The momentum was with China’s top star and he moved ahead for the first time in the match in frame nine with a break of 70.
And it looked as if Ding would be reaching his second consecutive Welsh Open final when he was in the balls in frame ten but missed a red early on. Bingham took full advantage of Ding’s error with a break of 93 to force the match into a decider.
Ding had the first real opportunity but like the previous frame could not make the most of it and missed on 23. And the missed blue was to cost the defending champion the ultimate price as Bingham saved his best break to last – a clearance of 108 – to give him victory.
Stephen Maguire will be chasing his first ranking tile in almost five years on Sunday after he held his nerve to beat new world number one Judd Trump 6-4.
However it was Trump who started the better of the two players when he won the first two frames to take a 2-0 lead.
But Trump’s fluent start was to turn into a night of frustration as Maguire controlled the rest of the match winning the next five frames.
Trailing 5-2 Trump threatened a memorable fightback after winning frame eight before a break of 86 put him just one frame behind at 5-4.
But Maguire refused to let the Bristol ace draw level and booked his place in the final when he came back from 50 points down to win the tenth frame.