John Higgins v Yan Bingtao: Masters final 2021 preview – Wizard of Wishaw out to deny Yan history
John Higgins aims to secure his third Masters title at the expense of debutant Yan Bingtao when the pair face off in the final of the 2021 Masters on Sunday.
Youth and experience collide as 20-year-old emerging star Yan faces Scottish stalwart Higgins for the right to claim snooker’s most prestigious invitational silverware.
Higgins is out to end a 15-year wait for Masters glory, while Yan is bidding to lift the Paul Hunter Trophy at the first time of asking following an superb series of wins this week.
Higgins has previously claimed this illustrious title in 1999 and 2006, while also finishing runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan in 1995 and 2005.
The 45-year-old has underlined his incredible longevity by maintaining his record as an ever-present in this elite event since his debut 26 years ago.
The world number seven opened up with a 6-5 victory over 2018 champion Mark Allen to reach only a second Quarter-Final of what has been a below-par season by his standards so far.
He then came through an epic contest with reigning World Champion O’Sullivan to prevail 6-3 in a match which saw the legendary duo serve up five consecutive centuries between them.
Incidentally, Higgins’ last televised title came at the 2018 Welsh Open – where he defeated O’Sullivan in the Quarter-Finals.
The four-time World Champion then dug deep to defeat David Gilbert 6-4 in Saturday’s Semi-Finals and will look to draw upon his four decades of experience at the top level when he faces the 20-year-old up raw talent.
Yan is the youngest Masters finalist since compatriot Ding Junhui in 2007 and is bidding to become the youngest Masters champion since a 19-year-old O’Sullivan triumphed in 1995.
Victory for Yan would also see him become only the second Asian cueist to win a Triple Crown event, after Ding.
The 2019 Riga Masters champion has enjoyed a thrilling run to the final, winning all three of his matches in last-frame deciders.
He began by edging out UK Champion Neil Robertson, before seeing off Stephen Maguire and dethroning reigning Masters champion Stuart Bingham in the Last Four.
World number 12 Yan has won his last two meetings with Higgins – at the 2019 UK Championship and 2020 Welsh Open – and was part of the China B side which defeated Scotland’s Higgins and Maguire in the final of the 2015 World Cup.
In total, Higgins and Yan have a split head-to-head record of three wins apiece, with this set to be their first fixture in a televised singles final.
The final gets underway from 1pm GMT for a total of eight frames before being played to a finish over the best of 19 from 7pm.
WATCH JOHN HIGGINS vs YAN BINGTAO STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)
John Higgins vs Yan Bingtao – Players’ View:
Higgins: “I’m delighted to get through. I knew it was going to be a hard game just to get through to the final and I can get better.
“Yan is a brilliant player and he has an old head on young shoulders but we all know that.
“He is starting to come through now and he believes he can win compared to previous years.”
Bingtao: “I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself.
“I will take [the final] 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.”