STUART Bingham believes the China Open will be decisive in his bid to reach the Snooker World Championships next month.

The Bowers Gifford player is currently 15th in the world rankings, with only the top 16 guaranteed a place at the sport’s crowning event. Should he finish outside those places, Bingham will have to win three qualifying matches to progress.

He continues his bid tomorrow at the Gibraltar Open, with the Romanian Masters next week.

But the big prize money is to be won in China at the start of April. And Bingham says his focus is on finding his form in the next two tournaments.

“I have currently earned around £26,000 more than Stephen Maguire, who is in 17th place in the rankings,” said Bingham. “I got beaten early in the Welsh Open and I probably needed to win that to get into the Players’ Championships.

“Not playing in that has cost me a minimum of £10,000. The prize money isn’t big in Gibraltar, but a few wins could make a difference.

“Ultimately it will come down to the China Open (which has a prize fund of more than £1million) as no-one wants to have to go through the qualifying rounds.”

Bingham reached the third round of the Welsh Open in Cardiff last week before suffering a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Matthew Stevens - his first round opponent in the China Open.

But the 41-year-old said he feels in a good place ahead of Friday’s first round match against Andrew Higginson.

“I felt good out there [in Wales] and won a few matches,” he said. “I played OK against Chen Zhe and then did well against Jackson Page. I was a fraction off on a few big shots against Steven and on another day I could hit them the same and they could go in.

“It is sport and it can be millimetres that matter. I tried my hardest and it didn’t quite work for me. But it could have been 4-1 to me.

“My game is coming on [after a return to the tour following a three month ban]. I need a few more tough matches under my belt. I have a tough opener in Gibraltar and need to get my potting boots on if I want to win.”