Ronnie O’Sullivan gives Yan Bingtao verdict after Masters win in Stephen Hendry comparison

World Snooker Championship final interrupted by disco music

Ronnie O’Sullivan has compared Yan Bingtao to snooker legends Stephen Hendry and John Higgins after the 20-year-old claimed his first Masters title with a stunning effort in Sunday’s final. Yan battled hard to defeat four-time world champion Higgins after a tense match in Milton Keynes which saw the Chinese youngster pocket £250,000 in prize money.

The contest appeared to be teetering on a knife edge until the very last frame when Yan claimed a break of 64 to seal a thoroughly impressive win and cap off a wonderful debut Masters campaign.

He managed to see off competition from Neil Robertson, Stephen Maguire and Stuart Bingham on his way to the trophy.

O’Sullivan, who has previously criticised the young players hoping to make up snooker’s next generation, praised Yan’s efforts after sealing the biggest triumph of his short career to date.

The Rocket claimed the youngster could be in line to enjoy an extended spell at the top of the game, suggesting he should target the longevity of beaten opponent Higgins by continuing to fight for titles.

“Bingtao winning this tournament, the way he’s come through is fantastic,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport. “Not just to see a new winner but someone that you think he’s going to go on and win a lot more.

JUST IN: Masters snooker 2021 results: Yan Bingtao beats John Higgins in final

“It’s like when Hendry came along, them type of players, John Higgins, Mark Williams, you thought: ‘this could go on for a while’.

“To do it young and in the manner he does, it’s been a fantastic tournament and he’s done it the hard way, he’s had the hardest draw you could possibly get.”

O’Sullivan is also backing Yan to succeed where compatriot Ding Junhui has failed by bringing home at least one world championship title before the end of his career.

No Chinese player has ever won snooker’s top prize, but the Essex-born veteran sees no reason why the country’s latest export cannot achieve unprecedented levels of success.

“I think he’s got more chance of doing it because he’s got a lot more time on his side,” O’Sullivan added.

“I think it’s a good time to be coming into snooker. It’s hard to say because there might be another three or four come out of the woodwork in one or two years and we might be saying the same about them.

“But at the moment he is the most mature, we’ve seen him do it under extreme pressure and you need to be able to perform under pressure to win the Crucible.

“I just think he’s going to get stronger and stronger and it will bring other players through as well. I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t win at least one or two world titles.”

Yan became the youngest Masters champion in 26 years with Sunday’s victory over Higgins.

The beaten former champion wasted no time in congratulating his opponent after the match, echoing O’Sullivan’s claims that Yan is a strong bet to win a future world title.

“He was fantastic, he’s got such an incredible all round game,” said Higgins. “He’s a definite world champion without a shadow of a doubt, China’s lucky to have him.”  

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