After a marathon four hours and 29 minutes of play, Yan Bingtao edged past Joe Perry on the final black to book his place in the semi-finals of the Coral Players Championship with a 6-5 win.
Talented 20-year-old Yan had looked set for a far more straightforward victory, when he led former Players Champion Perry 5-2. However, his nerves were apparent when he started to stumble at the finishing line, allowing Perry to claw his way back into the tie.
Chatteris cueman Perry stole the eighth frame on the black, before a break of 72 saw him ramp up the heat on his less experienced Chinese counterpart at 5-4. The Gentleman then levelled things up at 5-5 to set up an extraordinary decider.
The gruelling 58-minute frame had looked as if it was going Perry’s way, when Yan left the final pink over the yellow pocket. However, Perry surprisingly failed to acquire position on the last ball, as the contest came down to a black-ball fight. Eventually Yan deposited a gutsy pot to the green pocket to seal a nerve-shredding victory.
Yan will now face either Shaun Murphy or Mark Allen in what will be the seventh ranking semi-final of his career. He has enjoyed a fine campaign so far, which includes winning his maiden ranking title at the season opening Riga Masters.
Today’s victory sees Yan take a massive stride towards qualification for the series finale at the Coral Tour Championship. Only the top eight players on this season’s one-year list will progress to the elite Llandudno event. Yan currently sits in sixth position as things stand.
Perry still has an outside chance of snatching a Tour Championship place, but he will now need to win the upcoming Gibraltar Open and hope other results go his way. He is in a strong position to secure automatic qualification for the World Championship, sitting in 16th spot in the live world rankings.
Yan said: “I had too many thoughts in my head and it felt difficult to win even when I was two or three frames ahead. It happens to me a lot when I am facing a match winning opportunity, especially against top 16 players. I hope I can get rid of this problem in the future.
“I’m glad to play every match in this type of tournament, because I can play top players all of the time. They are stronger players and more experienced. I’m still not quite used to the one-table setup, because I get too nervous and think too much. I feel extra pressure when it comes to the key shots.”
Perry said: “I got myself into the game. The first six or seven frames are the worst I have played in years. I lost my temper and banged my cue. I apologised for that as I haven’t done it for a long time, but I was so frustrated. I got myself together, played a bit better and I should have won. I had the pink over one pocket and the black over another and I still didn’t win. I only have myself to blame.”
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