Judd Trump and Stuart Bingham played out a thrilling finale to the European Masters as the 2016 champion defended his title with a 9-7 victory.
Going into the competition, both players had severely struggled for form. Bingham had been knocked out of four tournaments in the first round and failed to make it into the quarter-finals of any event since February. Similarly, Trump has made a slow start to the season, missing out on qualification in one of his three competitions, though he did reach the final four of the Hong Kong Masters.
However, the duo showed glimpses of their undoubted talent in the later rounds of the European Masters as Trump thrashed Cao Yupeng with an inspirational performance and Bingham knocked out World number one Mark Selby and the in-form home favourite, Luca Brecel. The pair then extended their rejuvenation with a stellar display in Sunday's final.
All square after the first session
The opening frames failed to separate the two top ten players who had met on 20 occasions. Trump edged an 11-9 advantage going into the final and that tight scoreline was reflected on the scoreboard. Both players took two frames apiece before the mid-session interval with Trump manufacturing a break of 90 and Bingham hitting 73.
However, the 2015 World champion appeared to find his range and threatened to run away with the contest after the interval. Bingham hit impressive formulations of 107 and 101 only to be pegged back by the industrious Trump.
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Trump holds his nerve to thwart Bingham comeback
The break appeared to work wonders again for Bingham as he produced a third century break of 130 to restore his advantage. However, Trump hit back again with three frames in a row, including breaks of 107 and 66, to lead the contest for the first time at the interval.
Yet the 41-year old was not prepared to throw in the towel despite falling 7-5 behind. Trump failed to pot in the following two frames as 148 unanswered points drew the contest level for the fifth time.
However, the turning point in the contest unravelled in frame 15 when Bingham looked as if he might leave Trump in his seat for a third successive frame. The number seven seed fouled on a break of 24 to leave the table open for Trump to make a crucial formulation of 66. The World number four then secured his ninth ranking title with a break of 107 in the final frame.