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John Higgins expects severe test from Yan Bingtao as generations clash in Masters final


John Higgins has suffered defeat to Yan Bingtao before (Picture: Getty Images)

John Higgins may be the betting favourite against Yan Bingtao in the Masters final but he knows full well that a huge challenge lies ahead of him on Sunday.

The Wizard of Wishaw is into his first Masters final since he won the event for a second time in 2006 after downing Dave Gilbert 6-4 on Saturday evening.

In contrast, 20-year-old Yan is into the final on debut after a stunning run that has seen him beat Neil Robertson, Stephen Maguire and Stuart Bingham, all in deciding frames.

It is a clash of generations as arguably the best young talent in snooker takes on the 45-year-old, four-time world champion for one of the biggest prizes in the sport.

Higgins is well aware what Yan can do and has done for years.

The Scottish team of Higgins and Maguire lost to the Chinese pair of Yan and Zhou Yuelong in the 2015 World Cup final when Yan was just 15-years-old.

Since then, Yan has established a 3-2 lead in the head-to-head against Higgins, including winning their last two meetings, so the Scot will not be taking him lightly.

‘He’s a brilliant, brilliant player. He’s got an old head on young shoulders,’ Higgins said after beating Gilbert.

‘We’ve all known that. Me and Stephen Maguire played him and Zhou Yuelong in the World Cup when he was 15 and they beat us easy in the final.

‘We thought “my God, who are these boys coming through?”

‘We’ve always known they’re great players and he’s starting to come through now.

‘I think he believes he can win now. I think that’s maybe the difference in the last couple of years he’s gone into matches not believing.

‘I think he certainly believes he can win this event.’

Yan’s recent wins over Higgins came at the 2020 Welsh Open and the 2019 UK Championship, so he has no problem dealing with the big boys on the big stage.

The 20-year-old is appearing in his first Triple Crown final, though, while Higgins is in his 18th and the favourite is promising that he will bring his best game when it is needed.

‘I’ve got the utmost respect for Yan, I think the last couple of times I’ve played him I’ve lost to him and he’s tied me up in knots,’ said John.

Yan Bingtao is looking to win his first Triple Crown title (Picture: Getty Images)

‘It’s took them a little bit of time to come through, a lot of people maybe expected them to come through earlier but I think they’ve done their apprenticeship and they’re ready to win big events, I just hope it’s not tomorrow.

‘I’ve played garbage against him the last two times, so I’ll play well tomorrow.

‘I respect him, he’s a brilliant young boy, learning the language as well so every credit to him, I look forward to playing him.’

It is almost 10 years since Higgins won a Triple Crown title, the 2011 World Championship, and to get back in the winners’ circle at 45 would be as good as anything he has achieved.

‘If I was to win this it would be one of the best wins of my career, without a doubt,’ he said.


MORE :
Ronnie O’Sullivan admits he felt bad for potentially ‘doing John Higgins’ head in’ during Masters defeat


MORE : Ronnie O’Sullivan assesses Yan Bingtao’s game: ‘It’s strange’

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