Heroic John Higgins sets up Mark Allen showdown in Northern Ireland Open final
John Higgins will play home favourite Mark Allen in the Northern Ireland Open final after a commanding 6-2 victory over Yan Bingtao in Belfast.
The four-time World champion avenged his 10-8 defeat by the Chinese ace in this year’s Masters final after reeling off six successive frames at the Waterfront Hall on Saturday.
Higgins had lost each of his three previous meetings with Yan, who produced a brilliant 66 clearance from 55-1 down to take the opening frame, before controlling the second to double his lead.
This scenario was not unfamiliar to the Wizard. Indeed, he overturned this deficit before defeating David Gilbert 5-3 in the quarter-finals on Friday, having recovered from 3-0 down to scrape past Mark Williams 4-3 the previous day.
And he hit back with breaks of 52 and 83 to level things up at the interval.
A tight fifth frame came down to the final red, which Higgins crashed in from distance to complete the turnaround and lead for the first time.
It was very much one-way traffic from there; runs of 78, 75 and 90 helped the Scotsman progress to the 52nd ranking event final of his glittering career.
He will now vie for a second Home Nations title with Allen, who delighted his home crowd once again with a 6-3 win over Ricky Walden.
The Antrim ace controlled the opening two frames with a run of 61 along the way, but former International Championship winner Walden replied with 73 and 80 to level.
The world number 29 was making his first appearance in a ranking event semi-final since the 2016 China Open.
But he was powerless in the next three frames, as Allen produced a magnificent total clearance of 133 to move to the brink of victory.
Walden hung in there by recovering from 48-0 down in the next frame to keep his faint hopes alive.
But the Pistol fired back with a break of 73 to advance to a 13th career ranking final.
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Northern Ireland Open 2021 Results
Saturday October 16
Mark Allen 6-3 Ricky Walden
John Higgins 6-2 Yan Bingtao