Future world champ Yan Bingtao upsets Higgins, win Masters

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Chinese cueist Yan Bingtao (right). AFP

China's Yan Bingtao stunned four-time world champion John Higgins to claim the prestigious Masters title on January 17, becoming the tournament’s youngest winner in 26 years.

The 20-year-old Yan, who wasn’t even born when Higgins won the first of his two Masters in 1999, clinched a 10-8 victory in the final. He trailed his 45-year-old opponent 5-3 and then 7-5 in the 18th frame but battled back to lay the foundation for his triumph with a composed break of 64.

“I am very excited,” Yan told the BBC. “I have imagined how I would celebrate but I am very calm, even though in the last few frames I was not playing very well. But I did not give up.”

Higgins hailed Yan as a superstar of the future. “He is about the same age as my boy. He could be a world champion without a shadow of a doubt, so China is very lucky to have Yan,” said the Scot.

Ronnie O’Sullivan was just 19 when he became the Masters’ youngest ever winner with victory, also over Higgins, in the 1995 final.

Sadly for Yan, there were no fans on site at the venue in Milton Keynes due to Covid-19 restrictions.

He is only the second player from China to win the tournament, after the 2011 champion Ding Junhui.