Yan Bingtao to face John Higgins in Masters final after defeating Stuart Bingham

PA Sport Staff
·3 min read

Yan Bingtao produced a brilliant fightback to edge out defending champion Stuart Bingham 6-5 and take his place in the Masters final, where he will face two-time winner John Higgins.

The 20-year-old Chinese player, who had seen off Neil Robertson and Stephen Maguire in previous rounds, produced another composed display to recover from 4-2 behind and move to within one more victory of a maiden major title.

After Yan had levelled Saturday’s afternoon match at 1-1 with a clearance of 94, Bingham produced two half-century breaks on his way to opening up a 4-2 lead.

The world number 11, however, started his comeback in the seventh frame with a run of 63 before a 100 break in the ninth saw him move 5-4 in front.

Bingham, who beat Shaun Murphy 6-3 in their quarter-final, edged a tense 10th frame 72-61, having battled back from 57-4 behind.

Yan, though, regained his composure in the decider, building a superb break of 65 which left Bingham needing snookers and eventually conceding the frame and with it the match.

Chinese player Yan becomes the youngest Masters finalist since compatriot Ding Junhui was runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2007.

The 20-year-old won his maiden ranking title at last-season’s Riga Open, and knows he will have to raise his game again for Sunday’s final.

“I didn’t expect to win another decider, but I was really pleased I got through. I was very nervous in the final frame. My body started shaking, but I’m happy I held my nerve,” Yan said on the World Snooker Tour website.

“I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. I will take tomorrow in the same way as the other matches. I am already happy to reach this far.

“All my family and my girlfriend were watching and they have already sent their congratulations. They are very happy for me.”

Saturday’s evening session saw Scotland’s Higgins defeat world number 13 David Gilbert 6-4.

Higgins, 45, had defeated Ronnie O’Sullivan in a high-quality quarter-final, and produced another century break in the second frame to level after Gilbert had opened with a run of 80.

The match was locked at 2-2 for the interval, before Higgins – the world number six – opened up a lead with breaks of 107 and 55.

Gilbert came back again to level after taking the next and then the eighth frame by 59-56, after Higgins had missed a pink.

Higgins, though, held his nerve to come back to the table in the ninth and make another half-century break.

John Higgins
Veteran John Higgins will be out to land his third Masters title (Adam Davy/PA)

Following an exchange of safety shots, the former four-time world champion maximised another opportunity in the next to wrap up victory and reach another Triple Crown final, which will be played behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.

“I am delighted to get through,” Higgins said on BBC Sport. “I let him off the hook really at 4-2 when I missed a couple of bad balls.

“Maybe I was the favourite after the way I played against Ronnie, but that brings its own pressure, but I am in the final and can play better.”

Looking ahead to Sunday, Higgins added: “He (Yan) is a brilliant, brilliant player and has got an old head on young shoulders.

“He is starting to come through now and believes he can win now, which was the difference in the last couple of years and he certainly believes he can win this event.”