Yan Bingtao kept alive his dream of becoming the youngest ever Betfred World Champion as he beat Martin Gould 10-6 to reach the second round.
China’s Yan needs to win the title this year to beat Stephen Hendry’s record as the youngest Crucible king. Hendry was 21 years and four months old when he lifted the trophy in 1990, while Yan would be a month younger.
The player nicknamed the Tiger rode his luck in the closing stages against Gould as he pulled away from 5-5 to take five of the last six frames, but did enough to set up a last 16 clash with Shaun Murphy or Mark Davis.
Earlier this year, Yan enjoyed by far the best moment of his career so far as he beat John Higgins in the final of the Betfred Masters. However he has had a patchy season in ranking events, reaching just two quarter-finals, so today’s victory brings a welcome boost of £30,000 to his ranking tally.
Gould won the opening frame of the concluding session to level the match at 5-5, before Yan fired breaks of 130 and 116 to go 7-5 up. The Asian ace then came from 50-0 down in frame 13 to make an excellent 70 clearance.
The 14th came down to a safety battle on the final red, and Yan enjoyed a huge slice of good fortune as he fluked the red by doubling it the length of the table into a top corner, setting him up to clear for 9-5.
Yan could have sealed victory in the 15th frame if he had not missed a tricky final blue, allowing Gould to pull one back. But a run of 67 in frame 16 proved enough to get Yan over the winning line; Gould’s last chance ending when he went in-off as he potted the penultimate red.
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