Yan Bingtao pulled off a debut comeback win over Neil Robertson in a last-frame decider in Round One of The Masters on Tuesday, as Stephen Maguire sent Mark Selby packing.
Yan, one of three newcomers in this year’s Betfred Masters, battled back from 3-1 and 5-3 down to edge past an out of sorts Robertson in Milton Keynes.
The 20-year-old looked set to go 4-1 down, but a pivotal fifth frame paved the way for a comeback as he subjected the reigning UK Champion to a shock early exit.
Robertson was left to rue his poor preparation for the tournament, admitting: “I was surprised to be 5-3 up. I wasn’t playing particularly well.
“It’s a like a season reset for everyone having a few weeks off over Christmas and I was lacklustre in a certain areas; the tempo of the match really drained down.
“Without the crowd, if you let that happen, it can drag both players down. Neither of us were urgent to create chances.
“You cannot play week in week out – it is mentally impossible. I felt very refreshed, didn’t play at all over Christmas and understood the potential consequences of coming here having not played but you have to have a break sometime.
“Certain players have taken certain chances with their preparation and it is tough for guys with families.
“To keep practising over Christmas would have meant not going to Norway with family and that is not really an option.”
Robertson began strongly with consecutive breaks of 81 and 121 in opening up a 2-0 lead, before Yan got off the mark in style with a break of 123.
An 82 break saw the Australian restore a two-frame advantage, and he looked set to extend that after making a 52 break in frame five, only for Yan to snatch the frame and stay in touch.
The world number 12 added a break of 64 to restore parity, but Robertson wrestled back the lead before moving 5-3 ahead thanks to a break of 85.
The 2012 Masters champion, however, failed to convert another chance from there on in as Yan made breaks of 65 and 51 to force a decider, before picking off the reds in a flurry of visits to inflict the killer blow.
Yan will take on Maguire in the Quarter-Finals on Friday after the former UK Champion overcame Selby 6-3.
Maguire, a four-time Masters semi-finalist, hit the ground running with breaks of 66 and 57 to clinch the opening two frames.
Selby responded strongly with breaks of 54 and 79 in a dominant third frame, before adding a further half century to go in level at the interval.
Maguire made the highest break of the match in frame five with a 99, agonisingly missing a straight pink for a century.
The pair exchanged the followed two frames as Maguire remained in front at 4-3 before adding a 65 break and rounding off the win with a break of 61 despite Selby’s best efforts to obtain snookers.
“The start was very important so it was nice to settle in by winning the first two frames,” said Maguire.
“I don’t expect to run away and beat Mark and was expecting a comeback.
“I gave him a good fight safety wise, trying not to leave him in easily and that is probably the best my safety can get.
“It is always nice to beat the former world number one and it is always a tough match against him, it is only one match and I won’t get carried away.”
Betfred Masters 2021 Results
Tuesday January 12
Neil Robertson 5-6 Yan Bingtao
Mark Selby 3-6 Stephen Maguire