Snooker

Masters snooker 2021 final: John Higgins leads Yan Bingtao after first session

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John Higgins and Yan Bingtao
Higgins is appearing in his fifth Masters final while Yan is in his first
Date: 17 January Venue: Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website and the BBC Sport app. Highlights on BBC Two and online.

Two-time champion John Higgins leads Chinese debutant Yan Bingtao 5-3 after the first session of the Masters final.

Yan started confidently with 66 in his first major final but it turned scrappy before Higgins hit 63 to make it 2-2.

Scotland’s Higgins improved with 98 as he took three frames in a row, Yan hit back with a superb 97 clearance, but Higgins’ 52 edged him in front.

The final concludes from 19:00 GMT, with the winner collecting the trophy and £250,000 in prize money.

It is the first Masters final without spectators in attendance, with the tournament being played behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.

Yan, 20, is aiming to become the youngest player to triumph since Ronnie O’Sullivan, who won aged 19 in 1995, while 45-year-old Higgins is looking to be the oldest winner.

Yan was often out of sorts but should have levelled in the eighth frame – breaking down on 36, allowing Higgins to open up a two-frame advantage.

Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry said on BBC Two: “A 5-3 lead means that Yan Bingtao is now chasing, you don’t want that at the start of the second session.”

Six-time world champion Steve Davis added: “John Higgins has been helped by Yan Bingtao. He has been as naive in this session as he has over the whole tournament. He let John get back to the table too easily.

“He needs to come out, have a flying start and get his tail up.”

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