London: Yan Bingtao’s superb fightback stunned John Higgins as he became the youngest Masters champion in 26 years.
China’s Yan was making his Masters debut and at the age of 20 is a year older than Ronnie O’Sullivan was when he became the youngest champion by beating Higgins in the 1995 final.
It was world number 11 Yan’s first major title, adding to the Riga Open ranking event that he won last season.
Higgins led 5-3 and 7-5 but Yan won five of the next six to triumph 10-8.
The Sheffield-based player lifted the Paul Hunter trophy and took home a hefty £250,000 in prize money – the biggest payday of his highly promising career.
The first Masters final without spectators in attendance delivered a classic encounter, with the tournament being played behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes because of the coronavirus pandemic.
I am very excited, said Yan. ‘I have imagined how I would celebrate but I am very calm, even though in the last few frames I was not playing very well. But I did not give up.’
Higgins added: ‘It is a great achievement winning it at such a young age. I have played him the last few years. He has not much to learn in the tactical department and he is scoring as well now.
He was fantastic. He has such an incredible all round game.
He could be a world champion without a shadow of a doubt, so China is very lucky to have Yan.’