Join us tomorrow
What a final we have in prospect on Sunday. John Higgins, one of the greatest players ever and a multiple Triple Crown winner, against Yan Bingtao, a prodigious talent who has already won a ranking event and has knocked out Neil Robertson, Stephen Maguire and Stuart Bingham this week. When Higgins won his first Masters title in 1999, Yan hadn't even been born yet.
We'll have live coverage tomorrow from 12.45pm for the afternoon session and 6.45pm for the denouement in the evening. Take care out there until then, night night.
John Higgins is through to the Masters final
What an enthralling evening that was. All credit to David Gilbert, who started well tonight and dug in to fight back to 4-4 when it looked like the match might get away from him. He's had a tough 12 months as he's been admirably candid about, and he's played superbly this week to reach another Triple Crown semi-final. As for Higgins, it wasn't the vintage performance he produced against O'Sullivan last night but it was a solid all-round display and he located his very best when it was most required. Tomorrow he'll have the chance to win his third Masters and the tenth Triple Crown title of his wonderful career.
Higgins 5-4 Gilbert (62-24)
It's a done deal as Higgins rolls the final red into the bottom left and adds the black. Gilbert concedes, and Higgins is in the Masters final for the first time in 15 years.
Higgins 5-4 Gilbert (62-24)
What. A. Player. Higgins uses the extended rest and cue extension to slice the red perfectly into the bottom left and land on the green. It's professional equipment obviously, not the wobbly pole vaults you and I use in the club, but my word that's such a shot! The green goes in but Higgins can't pot the final red. Gilbert is playing on, as all the colours are on their spots and well set for snookers, but Higgins has one foot in the final.
Higgins 5-4 Gilbert (58-24)
He's going for it. After a red and blue, Higgins guides in a beautiful red into the bottom right while stretching, and he's on the blue. He rattles that in, and comes off the top cushion to nudge a red over the right middle. What a shot that is! That red disappears, followed by the pink, and if he can thin cut this next red and add any colour, Gilbert needs a snooker.
Higgins 5-4 Gilbert (39-24)
On 21 Higgins, who has been faultless with the rest tonight, misses a red to the bottom left with said contraption. It's hanging in the jaws, but Gilbert can't see it from behind the black; instead he plays off another red to cannon into it and flukes another red into the right middle to boot. Well hello, Paul Newman! He then pots a thin cut on the black but misses a red along the top cushion and into the green pocket. It's another chance for Higgins, but the reds are awkward.
Higgins 5-4 Gilbert (18-15)
Higgins has a couple of long sighters to try and force a chance to win the match, before snicking one in to the bottom left. He then misses the long blue that follows, and he's left Gilbert on a red to bottom right. Gilbert drops it in and goes up to baulk for the black, crunching that in to get it relocated to its own spot. He then piles into the pack off the blue, landing on a short jab at a red into the green pocket. It's just off line, and it rattles in and out of the jaws; Higgins is on a red to left middle, and this is a chance to close it out.
Higgins 5-4 Gilbert (17-1)
Gilbert dumps a long red into the bottom left at the beginning of the tenth, but can't add anything to it. Soon after, he goes in-off when playing a safety. From the D, Higgins strokes a red into the bottom right, but can't land on the black in baulk and plays a snooker instead. It's a beauty, right in behind the brown, and Gilbert gives away 12 in misses from his four cushion escape to land on a red near the bottom cushion, before nailing it at the fourth attempt.
Higgins 5-4 Gilbert
Gilbert accidentally cuts in a red when playing safe, that necessitates another long pot on the pink to keep his hope alive, and he drops it into the bottom left superbly. He gets to the final red and tries to lay a snooker that might gift him a free ball, but he makes a mess of it and leaves it on for Higgins. When John then rolls the red over the yellow pocket, Gilbert concedes. Higgins is one frame away from the Masters final.
Higgins 4-4 Gilbert (63-5)
After a long safety exchange Higgins, with the white tight to the top cushion, cuts a red into the left middle to land on the brown. That's a great shot; the brown follows as does frame ball red, and Gilbert now requires snookers in this frame.
Higgins 4-4 Gilbert (57-5)
A cut on the black to bottom left takes Higgins to 56, but the ensuing split on four reds below the pink hasn't worked out and he's on nothing. He plays safe, and there's still 67 on here for Gilbert so he's got a chance.
Higgins 4-4 Gilbert (33-5)
Higgins is back in, gobbling up a red over the bottom right and then fortuitously landing on a straight black to the bottom right. A split on the reds when potting the black takes him to 32, and he's on a red to the right middle. He won't let the disappointment of that pink in the last frame bother him, and he's got a great chance to hit straight back here.
Higgins 4-4 Gilbert (1-5)
Whatever next, eh? Gilbert is back in with a nice cut on a red into the bottom right, and comes back down the table off the green. He's chucked a chance to Higgins here though, as he misses the blue to the left middle when splitting the reds. Higgins can only pot one red and no more though before playing safe rather than risking a difficult black.
Higgins 4-4 Gilbert
Gilbert survives missing a long yahoo at the pink that sends the white off six cushions before landing safe. Some exceptional safety from both follows, before Higgins sticks the pink up over the bottom left. Gilbert drives it home, coming off two cushions to land perfectly on the black. That goes into the green pocket, and Gilbert has levelled the match!
Higgins 4-3 Gilbert (56-46)
Higgins takes yellow, green and brown, before going round the angles to land on pink to bottom left. It's virtually straight...and he's missed frame ball! Unbelievable. Gilbert needs pink and blue for the match, almost doubles the pink and just about trickles the white behind the black to land a snooker. Oh me oh my! These thirteen points are absolutely huge.
Higgins 4-3 Gilbert (42-46)
He hasn't entirely got the white on a string here, but Higgins has mopped up the reds and recovers position superbly by jabbing the blue into the green pocket with the rest to land on the yellow. He's on the colours, and up to and including the pink will do it.
Higgins 4-3 Gilbert (18-46)
Just as he's ticking along nicely, Gilbert catches the pink on his way to two reds near the bottom cushion and he's left himself a difficult cut on the lower one to keep his break going. He's missed it, and he's also brought two other reds near the right rail into action. That's end of break for Gilbert on 46 and a big chance for John to steal.
Higgins 4-3 Gilbert (18-20)
Played, David! He stuns the blue into the left middle and explodes the pack open perfectly, driving the white into the pink to free it and spreading reds all over. That's one of the shots of the match so far, what a chance he's got now.
Higgins 4-3 Gilbert (18-1)
It's been a tough night for Higgins from distance, but he clatters a long red into the green pocket at the start of the eighth. He's soon down for the black, and he's got four reds in the open here, so there's the chance to develop this visit into a frame-winner. He plays a poor positional shot off the blue though, in and out of baulk but failing to land accurately on the red beneath the pack and he misses it by a wide margin. That's end of break, and Gilbert steps straight in to clip in a stray red and land on the blue.
Higgins 4-3 Gilbert
Higgins waves it off from his chair, and Gilbert now trails by one frame.
Higgins 4-2 Gilbert (14-67)
A quick 17 leaves Higgins at the snookers required stage, but there's much more on here and Gilbert has stopped this run of frames against him.
Higgins 4-2 Gilbert (14-50)
This could be trouble for Gilbert. A long bout of safety from the bottom half of the table sends most of the reds into the top half of the table ends when a brilliant shot from Higgins leaves him welded to the bottom cushion with no route back to it. Gilbert is forced to have a shy at a cut on a red to left middle, but he misses it and leaves Higgins on a red to the yellow pocket. It goes, but Higgins can only add a blue before missing a cut on a red to the bottom left. Gilbert's in, and has to put this chance away.
Higgins 4-2 Gilbert (8-50)
Gilbert's back in, using all of the pocket to cut in a red to bottom left and land on the black. He's added another 23 here, but when splitting the reds from high off the blue the white kicks out to the right, and he's not on one.
Higgins 4-2 Gilbert (8-22)
Gilbert gives away eight in fouls when trying to thin clip a red to get back to baulk; as he can see it full ball, he's warned by referee Tatiana Wollaston that the frame will go to Higgins if he misses again. This time Gilbert connects thick, but Higgins can't plug the red from mid-range to get in. He's left one for Gilbert instead, and in it goes to the bottom left. Now then David, what have you got? A break of 22 for now, as he loses position on the reds and is forced to play safe.
Higgins 4-2 Gilbert
A break of 55 for Higgins secures his third frame in a row, and he's now two frames away from his first Masters final since 2006.
Higgins 3-2 Gilbert (62-4)
This one's done, and Higgins will have a two-frame lead shortly.
Higgins 3-2 Gilbert (42-4)
Gilbert hasn't potted a ball for 45 minutes. He misses a wild one to the bottom right, but as it comes around the table he flukes it into the yellow pocket.That'll do. Gilbert can't then drop the yellow into the right middle though, and he's left John on a red to the bottom left with the rest. In it goes, followed by the pink, and he's soon piling up points in the sixth. His break is up to 26, and with the reds spread invitingly this looks ominous.
Higgins 3-2 Gilbert (16-4)
Higgins' gains 12 in misses as Gilbert struggles to escape from the snooker. After he eventually pulls it off, Higgins flukes a red into the bottom right after rattling it out of the jaws of the bottom left. Again he can only play safe to baulk. It's an inviting table if someone can get in here.
Higgins 3-2 Gilbert (3-4)
Higgins cuts in two ultra-thin reds as shots to nothing in the sixth and plays behind a baulk colour on each occasion thereafter. Gilbert then picks up four points when Higgins misses a thin contact on a safety, before Higgins clubs in another shot to nothing and tucks Gilbert in behind the yellow. It's an ice hockey score so far, this one hasn't got going yet.
Higgins 3-2 Gilbert
He does indeed ton up for the second time tonight, as a 107 secures the fifth frame and Higgins takes the lead.
Higgins 2-2 Gilbert (69-0)
The break reaches 68 with a black and that will be enough for the frame. Higgins is right in the groove here, and might turn this into a ton.
Higgins 2-2 Gilbert (53-0)
A pink takes Higgins to his half-century, and two more reds and colours will do it. If there was any hangover from last night it seems to have cleared up now.
Higgins 2-2 Gilbert (17-0)
We're back, and the table quickly becomes messy in the fifth after a number of safety shots. Higgins flukes a plant when playing one of his own, but can't add anything to it. He soon gets another chance though, only just thin-cutting a red into the bottom left, and he's on the black. It needs a light touch here in terms of position, but this is a great chance for Higgins now.
In the break Eurosport reflect on the famous Jimmy White – Kirk Stevens semi-final at the Masters in 1984, where the Whirlwind triumphed but Kirk hit his legendary 147. Jimmy has just revealed that the actor Donald Sutherland was in the crowd, watching his first ever snooker match, and then must have assumed the great game was like that all the time.
Higgins 2-2 Gilbert
You've seen him, you know what he does. Higgins pots brown, blue and pink for good measure, and we're level at the interval. We'll be back for the rest of this absorbing semi-final in 15 minutes.
Higgins 1-2 Gilbert (48-45)
Higgins clears up all remaining reds with colours to take the lead in the frame. There really is a numbing certainty about his work in these situations, it must send a chill through the rest of the tour. He dumps the yellow in with the rest, and needs up to and including the blue for the match.
Higgins 1-2 Gilbert (0-45)
Gilbert gradually slides out of position in this break, and he misses a thin blue to the left middle when trying to cannon a red near the pink. That's end of break on 32, but he's straight back in after John misses a long red to the green pocket. The black is just about in play now, so if Gilbert can land on it soon he's got a great shot at winning the frame at this visit. He does indeed land on it, but he's missed it; he's also left it over the pocket and left Higgins on a red that goes past it.
Higgins 1-2 Gilbert (0-20)
Another long safety exchange starts the fourth frame, until Higgins slides off a red on the bottom cushion when trying to land on it deadweight, and he's left it on to the bottom left. It's a difficult table, with pink and black tied up, but after potting a blue the white cracks into the pack to send the pink over the bottom left. Gilbert looks really up for this, yet really relaxed at the same time.
Higgins 1-2 Gilbert
Gilbert leaves Higgins needing snookers as he reaches 66, and another 20 on top banks him another frame.
Higgins 1-1 Gilbert (0-52)
This is lovely stuff from Gilbert, who's gliding around the table and playing little stuns and screws to rack these points up. He's over a half-century in no time and there's still a load out in the open for him.
Higgins 1-1 Gilbert (0-12)
After a prolonged safety battle, a wild long red from Higgins misses by a distance. He's scattered reds all over the place, and served one up over the left middle for Gilbert. The black is out of action near the left rail so the white will need to travel a fair bit, but this is a decent chance if he can open the path to the pink, which he has.
Higgins 1-1 Gilbert
Higgins empties the table for an excellent 106, and it's one each.
Higgins 0-1 Gilbert (68-11)
The frame's done, but just for good measure Higgins comes off the bottom cushion after potting the blue to nudge a red over the right middle. This is more like the Higgins from last night.
Higgins 0-1 Gilbert (52-11)
It's a half-century fir Higgins, who needs two more of the remaining four reds with colours to leave Gilbert needing snookers here.
Higgins 0-1 Gilbert (24-11)
Both players are sending reds into baulk and screwing back to the bottom cushion; there are now seven reds in the top half of the table. Gilbert tries a three ball plant into the green pocket, which rattles but doesn't drop; there's a plant left on for Higgins, who snicks it in off one cushion to land on the blue. There are reds everywhere here, and it looks impossible not to land on something after potting a colour. Higgins' break is 24 and counting so far.
Higgins 0-1 Gilbert (0-11)
Gilbert's here to attack, but misses a risky long red to the bottom right. That leaves John a mid-ranger to the bottom left, a simple enough looking shot, but he misses it badly and he's left Gilbert in. In commentary, Phil Studd notes that Higgins has made more mistakes in this match than he did in the whole of his encounter with O'Sullivan last night. He doesn't pay for it though, as Gilbert can only fashion 11 before having to play safe.
Higgins 0-1 Gilbert
The last red goes into the green pocket, and Gilbert clears up to the pink for a break of 80 to win the first frame.
Higgins 0-0 Gilbert (37-74)
Gilbert's back in with a long red from D, and he starts mopping up what's left. He doubles the second to last red to get to 47; the black secures his half-century and leaves Higgins needing a snooker.
Higgins 0-0 Gilbert (37-20)
Higgins overshoots position on the pink, but manages to jab it into the right middle to leave a mid-range red to bottom right. It's an early test of cueing and he drills it in to land on the black. That's an excellent shot, but he manages to then snooker himself on his next red with the black after potting it and that's end of break. Not only that, he goes in-off from his safety. Careless stuff from both so far.
Higgins 0-0 Gilbert (0-16)
It's advantage Gilbert, as he calmly rolls in a long red to the bottom right to land on the black. At that speed, that's a confident shot. He's into the reds early too, and gets a nice split, he then leaves a red hanging in the jaws after cueing awkwardly over another red. It's early - obviously - but that could be expensive.
I can't get no sleep
Our MC Rob Walker introduces David Gilbert to the sound of the Faithless classic Insomnia. John Higgins follows, and here we go - best of 11 for a place in the Masters final. Can they possibly give us a little radio edit version of their epic 2019 World Championship semi-final, where Higgins just about won 17-16?
How do you top last night? John Higgins’ brilliant 6-3 demolition of Ronnie O’Sullivan might be his finest performance in the last ten years. And, speaking of a decade, it’s been that long since John last won a Triple Crown event, a bemusing gap for one of the game’s greats. If he can get back up to the level that levelled Ronnie last night, he’s surely the favourite to win the 2021 Masters.
The Angry Farmer
David Gilbert has never won a ranking event, and he still won’t have done if he lifts the Paul Hunter trophy tomorrow; It’s one of our Triple Crowns though, dripping with cash and cachet, and you can carve your name in the annals of snooker history if you win it. Gilbert was a semi-finalist here last year, and a semi-finalist at the Crucible in 2019; can he finally get over the line and reach the final of one of the majors?
Welcome back to live coverage of the semi-finals of the 2021 Masters. The sensational Yan Bingtao is already through to tomorrow’s final, and tonight we’ll find out which one of David Gilbert and John Higgins will join him.
Thanks for your company this afternoon
Join us again in half an hour's time, we'll be back for David Gilbert versus John Higgins from 6.45pm.
Yan Bingtao is in the Masters final
He's done it again! After taking out Neil Robertson and Stephen Maguire in final frame deciders this week, Yan has now eliminated the defending champion in a one frame shootout. What a result that is for him, and what composure to show after blowing a chance to clinch the match 6-4 in the previous frame. It's been a valiant defence of the title by Bingham, who took Yan to the brink today but never really brought his best game to this semi-final. He's out, but Yan goes on; snooker's rising star will face the winner of David Gilbert and John Higgins in the final tomorrow. Can he possibly win the tournament on debut?
Yan 6-5 Bingham
Bingham pots two reds and blacks, and then tucks Yan in behind the pink. Yan gives away four in trying to clip the final red, but he was careful not to leave a free ball. It's over now though; Bingham leaves the red on to the right middle, which Yan converts. That's all - Bingham concedes, and Yan Bingtao has won his third decider in a row at the 2021 Masters.
Yan 5-5 Bingham (72-8)
A red to take his break to 58 leaves Bingham at snookers required; Yan then floats the black effortlessly into the left middle to make sure. What a moment for him - he's going to be in the Masters final at 20 years old! Bingham comes back to the table, but he needs four snookers here.
Yan 5-5 Bingham (58-8)
Hope is draining here for Bingham as Yan brings up his half-century with a thin-ish cut on black to bottom left that needs the jaws to help it in. He's almost there.
Yan 5-5 Bingham (44-8)
It's going well here for Yan; he survives wobbling a red into the bottom left, and from low on the black as an upshot he opens the pack nicely to land on his next red, off which he then jars free the blue and pink. The match is in his hands again as his break moves to 37.
Yan 5-5 Bingham (7-8)
Yan has won two deciders already this week; he needs to put that shot with the rest out of his mind now and focus on another. That doesn't seem to be a problem, as from Bingham's break he absolutely bullets a straight red into the bottom right to land on the blue. Crikey. He can only make seven from it though, as he misses a later blue when sending the white into the pack. He's not left Bingham anything though, although Ball Run soon converts a long red and a black himself, but misses a thrash at a thin cut on a red to bottom right thereafter. Yan's on an easy starter to left middle as a result.
Yan 5-5 Bingham
Bingham flukes a snooker, and Yan catches the pink with his escape to bring the scores level. Even worse, he's left Bingham a cut on blue to bottom right...and it's in! The natural angle lands him on the pink, and that goes too for a sensational steal. For the sixth time in 13 matches at the 2021 Masters, we're going to a decider. This game, this game.
Yan 5-4 Bingham (61-55)
Bingham wins the exchange, as Yan sticks the red up over the bottom right for him. He's already nicked two frames from seemingly doomed positions, can Bingham do it again here? He needs up to and including the pink. It's all going to plan until he overshoots position on the brown. He then tries to play a snooker behind the pink, but underhits it badly and he's left the brown on to the yellow pocket for Yan! The drama isn't done yet either - Yan pots the brown but can't get position on the blue! Deary me, this is intense. It's blue and pink needed for Yan, the lot for Stuart.
Yan 5-4 Bingham (57-42)
This is a great effort from Bingham after being frozen out for so long. He adds 38, but in trying to move the final red off the right rail he gets a double kiss and isn't left a pot at it. Instead he traps Yan in behind the black, from where Yan escapes, and we're set for a tense safety battle on the last red.
Yan 5-4 Bingham (57-18)
Oh my, how big will this be? Needing only red-colour-red to leave Bingham needing snookers, Yan misses a simple straight red to the bottom right with the rest. That's a huge miss, because this one looked over. He then misses a yahoo at a long red before Bingham dispatches his first red for 82 minutes. There's an awful lot to do here, but he's still hanging on to his crown as he sets about compiling a break to get back into this frame.
Yan 5-4 Bingham (43-4)
A superb long pink from Yan into the yellow pocket keeps his break going as he tries to stitch together enough points to get over the line. He's up to 33 in this break already, and he's using the pink as his colour while he tries to pot reds out of the line of the black to both corners.
Yan 5-4 Bingham (15-4)
Bingham needs points from somewhere here or is reign as champion will be over. He dumps a red into the bottom right from baulk at the start of the tenth, only to look on in horror as the white flies into the bottom left. That's left Yan a straight red to the left middle from baulk, but he can only add six after his split on the reds from the blue goes awry. Bingham then does get four from Yan who goes in-off from a safety, but he can't jam in a red with ball in hand from baulk. He's really struggling, and Yan compounds his misery by firing in another red to land on the brown.
Yan 5-4 Bingham
Merciless stuff from Yan, who takes the ninth with a round ton. He is such an impressive player, and looks absolutely made for these high pressure situations. From 4-2 behind he is now just one frame away from the Masters final on his debut, and Bingham hasn't potted a ball for over an hour.
Yan 4-4 Bingham (72-0)
What a shot from Yan! Bingham leaves him tight to the top cushion and there's only one red he can hit, tight to the lower right rail. After weighing it up for over a minute, Yan calmly rolls it straight into the bottom right and pops off the bottom cushion to land on the back. That could be the frame, and soon is; Yan's added 32 and counting, and Bingham needs a snooker.
Yan 4-4 Bingham (40-0)
Yan seemed to get a kick off the black when thundering it in to reach 40, and he's left a thin cut on a red to bottom right as a result. He overcuts it, leaving it near the pocket, but he's just about covered it with the blue. Bingham tries an audacious three ball plant as a shot to nothing; it misses, but he's cleared the red away from the pocket and the white goes safe.
Yan 4-4 Bingham (24-0)
There's a chance for Yan in the ninth as Bingham shorts a deadweight safety when trying to land on a red near the bottom cushion. That's four away, and he's left Yan on a red to the bottom left. He's quickly into it, adding a black on to his first three reds, and there are numerous other loose reds to play for here.
Yan 4-4 Bingham
Yan adds 36 to bring the scores level, and we've got best of three for a place in the final. Given momentum and how both players have played today Yan looks the favourite from here, but there have been so many unforced errors this afternoon anything could happen yet.
Yan 3-4 Bingham (71-0)
A good safety from Yan after an attempt at a pot draws a foul from Bingham, who now needs a snooker. Yan then drills in a long red to the bottom right, and we're done here.
Yan 3-4 Bingham (66-0)
Yan's got the initiative back now; a superb safety traps Bingham behind the brown, and although Ball Run escapes he's left Yan a straight red to the bottom left. After losing position on the reds a nicely judged plant from Yan keeps his break going. It sends the black up over the yellow pocket, which he converts, but he doesn't get through the white enough and he's left a difficult frame ball red from distance. Yan misses it to the bottom right, and with 67 still on the table Bingham is still in this one.
Yan 3-4 Bingham (47-0)
Just as he looked poised to take the frame in one hit, Yan misses a straightforward red to the bottom left. It doesn't even go close, that's a shocker. Amazingly he's not left anything on for Bingham though, who can do nothing but play safe back to baulk.
Yan 3-4 Bingham (26-0)
Bingham misses a long red to the bottom right; his long pot success rate is just 44% today. Yan steps in to plug a thinner one into the same pocket, and he's on the yellow. The key shot early on is potting a red and shifting another away from the black in the same movement, which he does by using the spider rested on it's side to bridge over other reds. That's innovative, and incisive; Yan is in here, and has a lot to go at.
Yan 3-4 Bingham
It's over now as Yan plugs the final red and up to the yellow to reduce his deficit to just one frame.
Yan 2-4 Bingham (45-20)
Yan glides in a lovely red down the right rail from distance, but fails to pot the pink to put the frame beyond doubt. Bingham will play on with this final red to try and force a free ball.
Yan 2-4 Bingham (64-20)
It's a half-century for Yan, who won't need to shift two reds that are welded together near the bottom left if he can stay on high value colours. He's also lost position slightly on the third to last red, and leaves himself a long one to the yellow pocket. It's a tough shot, but he drops it in followed by the blue to leave Bingham needing two snookers. Yan plays safe of both the reds, but Bingham does claw four back from a miss after landing Yan in a snooker.
Yan 2-4 Bingham (24-16)
Yan gets back in with an excellent long red into the bottom right. After a few delicate shots to get in position, including awkwardly bridging over a red to jab the pink into the left middle, he's in good position now.
Yan 2-4 Bingham (1-16)
This could be a big moment in the match. Yan takes on a cut on a red to the bottom left, but he's missed it and left Bingham an easy starter from short range to the bottom right. Yet just as Bingham looks set to make hay, he undercuts a red to the bottom left and Yan has a chance; he only makes one solitary point from it though, as he leaves the white stranded after cutting a red to the left middle and he's on nothing. That's a let off for both players so far in this frame, because these reds are set to go for a heavy score.
Yan 2-4 Bingham
As the frame plays on, our commentary team discuss the title itself. The Masters trophy of course carries the name of Paul Hunter, who won three of these titles in four years in the early noughties before being taken from us at just 27 years old. Each time he came from behind to win the title in a deciding frame. 'What a great player he was,' reflects Joe Johnson. Amen to that.
Back at the table Bingham pots the second to last red before Yan misses when trying to escape from a snooker, and he's two frames in front once more.
Yan 2-3 Bingham (16-61)
It's been an awkward end to the break as Bingham has needed to go up for the yellow off three reds in a row, and he then misses the second to last red with the rest. He's 45 in front with 43 on, but he'll be annoyed that he didn't close that out. There's still a chance here for Yan, and brown and blue are nicely positioned near the baulk area to try and snooker behind.
Yan 2-3 Bingham (16-55)
Bingham goes up for the yellow on 49, and thumps it in to secure his half-century. He screws the white back down the table, and he's inching towards the winning line in this frame.
Yan 2-3 Bingham (16-24)
Yan catches the blue with his safety, leaving a red on to the bottom left. It goes, and Bingham's nicely on the black with so many open reds to drop on next. 'Great chance this for Stuart Bingham,' remarks Joe Johnson in co-comms. I'll say. There's 24 down in no time and a lot more coming.
Yan 2-3 Bingham (16-4)
Yan picks up four from a miss, and drops in a long red without being able to add a colour. It's an awkward table, this, but the reds are gradually breaking up and there's a nice spread there for whoever gets in next.
Yan 2-3 Bingham (11-4)
A long, long safety battle starts the sixth, until Bingham misjudges one and leaves Yan a free go at a red to the green pocket. White and object ball are close to the rail, but Yan clatters the red into the heart of the pocket to land on the brown. It's hard work early on, as Yan needs to drop a red into the bottom left from off the side cushion and send the white in and out of baulk off the blue, and it goes wrong as he goes in-off in the right middle after a wafer thin cut on his next red.
Yan 2-3 Bingham
A clearance of 88 reduces Bingham's lead to one frame.
Yan 1-3 Bingham (83-4)
Yan moves to 55 with a pink to bottom right, the frame long since secure. He knows he should probably be 4-1 up here, but that isn't bothering him; it's the kind of temperament that could take him a long way in his career.
Yan 1-3 Bingham (53-4)
Bingham's four cushion escape doesn't connect, and he's left Yan a red to the right middle. This is an important visit, and he recovers superbly after losing position on the black, clipping it in with lots of right hand side to then nudge his next red into position. Yan should see it out from here.
Yan 1-3 Bingham (23-4)
Yan thunders in another stunning long red, gun barrel straight into the bottom right, but he can't follow it up with the blue. Bingham soon lets him back in though as he rattles a red in the jaws of the bottom left and leaves it there. This is a reasonable chance for Yan, but he's struggling to keep the white under control. He's come out pumped up after the break, but he's just getting into the white a bit too much. The break ends on 15 when he screws past the baulk colours, and he tucks Bingham in behind the brown.
Yan 1-3 Bingham (8-4)
We're back out for the denouement. The consensus in the Eurosport studio was that Yan had been the better player in the first session. Two steals by Bingham, both on the black, have given him the edge. Given how Yan hauled in Robertson earlier this week I wouldn't bet the farm on Bingham pulling away. Yan gets off to a flier in the fifth, drilling in a brilliant long red, but he can only make eight before playing safe and going in-off.
Yan 1-3 Bingham
And it is, as Bingham sails past the winning post. We don't get the ton, but an 87 opens up a two-frame lead for Bingham at the interval. We shall return in 15 minutes.
Yan 1-2 Bingham (0-58)
The blue takes Bingham to a half-century. He needs a decent split on the five reds below the pink to sort this in one visit...and he gets it with a lovely, delayed screw shot when potting the black. This one looks over.
Yan 1-2 Bingham (0-22)
Bingham's off first in the fourth frame, cutting a thin red into the left middle. That's left him a thin cut on the black, which he dispatches into the bottom right and develops reds at the bottom of the pack into good positions. That's an excellent shot, and this has developed into a really promising opportunity for him.
Yan 1-2 Bingham
That's another great clearance under pressure from Bingham, and he regains the lead here.
Yan 1-1 Bingham (62-38)
Bingham leaves a red over the bottom left but he's just about covered it with the yellow. After thinking on it for over two minutes, Yan swerves around the yellow to hit it but it's a nothing shot, neither pot nor safety, and he's left it on to the bottom right. Bingham has a chance for a huge steal here. He's cleaned up the reds, inclusive of a difficult one down the left rail with the rest, and he pots the blue to go up for the colours. If he dishes the lot, Bingham will nick another frame on the black.
Yan 1-1 Bingham (62-18)
A miscalculation here from Yan, as he eschews a chance to try and drop behind a red on the bottom cushion to play for an open one instead. That forces him to take the red near the bottom cushion from a much more difficult angle, and he wobbles it in and out of the bottom right. That was frame ball; Yan's break ends on 62 and with 51 still out there, Bingham can still nick this.
Yan 1-1 Bingham (42-18)
A blue to right middle takes Yan to 42. There are six reds left out there and three are adjacent to cushions, so there's still work to do to get over the line at this visit.
Yan 1-1 Bingham (0-18)
Yan plays such a bad safety shot at the start of the third that even he's smirking. In trying to glance off the pack and go back to baulk he hits the black full in the face to leave Bingham straight on a red to the bottom left. Ball Run is off and running here, and into the pack early off the blue. This is a good chance, but he then overcuts a red to the bottom right and he's left a load on here for Yan.
Yan 1-1 Bingham
It's a clearance of 94 for Yan as he pulls level at 1-1.
Yan 0-1 Bingham (72-2)
Yan takes his break to 42 and Bingham now needs snookers, but he won't be coming back to the table. It's a half-century and counting for Yan, who looks to have located his rhythm now.
Yan 0-1 Bingham (43-2)
It's a mess, this. Bingham goes into the pack off the blue, but catches the first red half-ball and goes in-off. Yan's back in, and almost loses position when trying to move a cluster of reds as he sticks to one of them, but just about retains position on his next red. His break here is 22 and counting, and slowly this frame is opening up for him.
Yan 0-1 Bingham (16-1)
Bingham drops the first red of frame two into the left middle, but then misses a green to the same pocket by a huge margin. Yan then converts a red from a shot to nothing, before tucking Bingham in behind the brown. Neither player has really settled yet, but Yan might now; Bingham clunks into the pink from his escape, and he's left Yan a red to left middle to get going. It breaks down almost immediately though, as Yan rolls a pink out off the knuckles of the right middle and it's a chance for Bingham.
Yan 0-1 Bingham
Plot twist! Yan misses the green to the right middle, and he's left it on to the yellow pocket. Bingham needs to dish all five remaining colours for the frame. He takes the green and brown with the rest, before mopping up the rest off their spots. Inwardly, he'll be breathing a sigh of relief; Bingham's mistake didn't cost him, and he hits the front in this semi-final.
Yan 0-0 Bingham (31-30)
Yan takes the lead in the frame, and there are only two reds left on the table. The brown and yellow are off their spots but in the open, and he'll need to take the baulk colours to leave Bingham needing snookers.
Yan 0-0 Bingham (1-30)
Ball Run gets another bite as Yan catches a safety too thick and sticks a red up to the right middle. Bingham tries to drill it in and split a cluster of reds, blue and pink; the split works out, but he's missed the pot! That's a big error and might cost him the frame, as he's opened it all up for Yan here.
Yan 0-0 Bingham (1-30)
Bingham makes 22 but finishes low on the blue and misses it to the right middle when trying to force the white in and out of baulk. He’s not left anything though and we’re back on safety play for now. Bingham gets in again but can't lasso the white under control, adding red-yellow-red before being forced to play safe again.
Yan 0-0 Bingham (1-13)
Yan's first long red, played as a shot to nothing, fails to find the pocket. Bingham's response does, as he drops one into the bottom right and lands on the green. He pots that thick though, and doesn't land on his next intended red so plays safe. Yan later forces a red down but can't land on a colour. It's a scrappy start, but Bingham gets in with a red to the left middle and has the first real chance of the match.
Let's get about it. Our MC Rob Walker has baized the boys, it's best of 11 for a place in tomorrow's final.
Ronnie's in the studio today because he lost 6-3 to John Higgins in a brilliant quarter-final that only added to the legend of their rivalry. Higgins is now the only player in the world top 10 still standing in the 2021 Masters.
What a week it’s been so far for young Yan Bingtao. In the first round he edged out Neil Robertson in a deciding frame; yesterday he made it through to today’s semi-final by the same margin over Stephen Maguire with a break of 143, the highest of his career, in the final frame. Yan is 20-years old, but has the nerve of a seasoned pro already. Having won a ranking title in his teens and been as high as 11 in the world rankings, he’s one of the rising forces in the game.
In April 2015, just a few weeks shy of his 39th birthday, Bingham had won two ranking events in a 20-year grind on the circuit. He then shook up the world to win the big one at The Crucible, and last year he landed the Masters title. He is now two-thirds of the way to a Triple Crown, and has a great shot here at retaining the Masters portion of it. Ball Run Bingham: what a testament to sticking at it.
It’s semi-final day at the 2021 Masters. Ronnie’s in the studio for the live Eurosport coverage, and we’ve got a pair of belters for you today. First up, in about 15 minutes time, it’s defending champion Stuart Bingham against Yan Bingtao.
Good morning everyone! We hope you are rested and ready for Eurosport's coverage of semi-final day at the 2021 Masters! Yesterday was an absolute humdinger. First up we had a final-frame decider with Yan Bingtao edging out Stephen Maguire before John Higgins knocked out world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan in a clash of the titans. Today we start with the aforementioned Bingtao facing former champion of the world Stuart Bingham. Then Higgins returns to the baize as he faces David B Gilbert. We could have two former world champions in the final or we could have two relative novices. What a day we have in store for you!
Full Masters schedule
Sunday January 10
- Kyren Wilson 6-2 Gary Wilson (1pm)
- Joe Perry 2-6 David Gilbert (7pm)
Monday January 11
- Stuart Bingham 6-4 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh (1pm)
- Shaun Murphy 6-4 Mark Williams (7pm)
Tuesday January 12
- Neil Robertson 5-6 Yan Bingtao (1pm)
- Mark Selby 3-6 Stephen Maguire (7pm)
Wednesday January 13
- Ronnie O'Sullivan 6-5 Ding Junhui (1pm)
- John Higgins 6-5 Mark Allen (7pm)
Thursday January 14
- David Gilbert 6-5 Kyren Wilson (1pm)
- Stuart Bingham 6-3 Shaun Murphy (7pm)
Friday January 15
- John Higgins 6-3 Ronnie O'Sullivan (1pm)
- Stephen Maguire 5-6 Yan Bingtao (7pm)
Saturday January 16
- Stuart Bingham v Yan Bingtao (1pm)
- David Gilbert v John Higgins (7pm)
Sunday January 17
- TBC v TBC (1pm, 7pm)
HOW TO WATCH THE MASTERS 2021 TV AND LIVESTREAM
You can watch every moment of the Masters live and ad-free on the Eurosport app and eurosport.co.uk.
The Masters will also be broadcast on Eurosport 1 across the week.