Yan Bingtao reached the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship for the first time and established himself as a genuine contender for the title, knocking out Mark Selby by a 13-10 scoreline.
China’s 22-year-old Yan produced a performance which Selby himself would have been proud of, showing determination, patience and the ability to pot crucial balls the key moments. After seeing the defence of his title end, Selby admitted being full of admiration for Yan’s excellent all-round game.
Aside from victory over John Higgins in the final of the 2021 Masters, this is the best win of Yan’s career as he outlasted four-time champion Selby on snooker’s biggest stage. The world number 16’s reward is a match with Mark Williams on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Yan, who is based in Sheffield, rises to the occasion when he plays Selby as he has now won their last four meetings. Tonight’s contest was a fascinating slow-burner between two warriors of the baize, neither giving an inch.
Trailing 9-7 going into the concluding session, Selby had a golden chance to reduce the deficit in the opening frame tonight, but missed the pink to a top corner when he led by 19 points with two reds left. Yan cleared to go three ahead.
Frame 18 lasted 46 minutes and came down to a safety battle on the brown. A safety exchange ended with a rare error from Selby, and his opponent knocked in superb pots on the brown, blue and pink to go 11-7 up. Back came Selby with breaks of 86, 117 and 88 to close to 11-10.
Frame 20 was the longest played in 45 years of snooker at the Crucible, lasting 85 minutes and 22 seconds. After a series of safety exchanges, Selby had a chance to clear the colours to level the match, but missed a difficult pink to a top corner. Both players failed to convert chances at the black, before Yan slotted it into a centre pocket for 12-10.
And that proved the decisive moment as Yan finished in style with a break of 112.
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