Ding Junhui v Yan Bingtao: UK Championship 2019 Semi-Final preview – China’s top two collide

Jamie Shaw in UK Championship

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Higgins shakes hands with Yan (credit:Nigel French/PA Images)

Yan Bingtao stuns John Higgins to reach UK Championship Semi-Finals as Ding, Allen and Maguire also progress

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Maguire marches on in York (credit:Nigel French/PA Images)

Dominant duo Ding Junhui and Stephen Maguire set up UK Championship final clash

In-form Ding in action (credit:Nigel French/PA Images)

In-form Ding in action (credit:Nigel French/PA Images)

China’s top two cueists collide for a place in the final of the 2019 UK Championship on Saturday as Ding Junhui takes on Yan Bingtao.

World number 16 Ding and world number 20 Yan face off for the first time since 2013 as they look to keep their hopes alive of lifting this prestigious Triple Crown trophy.

A match which will capture the imagination of millions of snooker fans in China sees two-time UK Champion Ding looking to remain on course for a third UK triumph a decade after his most recent success.

Ding created history in this event back in 2005 when he became the first Asian player to lift the UK Championship trophy at the age of just 18, and ‘The Dragon’ repeated the feat four years later to become one of only nine multiple winners.

Ding has endured a torrid season by his standards which has seen him slip down the world rankings, having suffered First Round exits in three of his five ranking event appearances prior to his trip to York.

However, his exploits this week will see him climb back in the right direction as he vies for a first ranking title since the 2017 World Open, though he now faces another tough assignment against his young compatriot.

Ding defeated Duane Jones and Michael Georgiou 6-2 in the early rounds before fending off a valiant Ali Carter fightback to complete a 6-4 victory in the Last 32.

He then dethroned reigning and back-to-back Betway UK Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan thanks to a stunning 6-4 victory before going on to defeat 2015 finalist Liang Wenbo 6-2 in the Quarter-Finals.

Yan aims to knock his compatriot off his perch (Photo by PA Images)

Yan aims to knock his compatriot off his perch (Photo by PA Images)

Yan, meanwhile, has embarked on a remarkable run to his first Triple Crown event Semi-Final and a fourth ranking event Semi-Final since turning professional in 2016.

Winner of this season’s Riga Masters, the 19-year-old has affirmed himself as China’s most exciting young snooker talent by defeating a trio of top 16 ranked stars along the way.

Yan safely saw off Brazil’s Igor Figueiredo and Grimsby’s Stuart Carrington in the early rounds before dispatching world number 13 Jack Lisowski 6-3 and thrashing two-time UK Champion Neil Robertson 6-1.

He then pulled off one of the biggest wins of his career by knocking out three-time UK Champion John Higgins 6-3 in Friday’s Quarter-Finals and will be determined to continue his ground-breaking run.

This will be only the second meeting between the two players, the first having come in an Asian Tour event in 2013, with Ding beating the 13-year-old prodigy 4-1.

Their latest show-down gets underway from 1pm GMT and will be contested over the best of 11 frames.

Either 2004 UK Champion Stephen Maguire or 2011 and 2018 runner-up Mark Allen will await the winner in Sunday’s final.