STUART Bingham’s Betfred Masters title defence has come to an end after becoming the latest player to fall to 20-year-old superstar Yan Bingtao.

Yan is in his debut Masters campaign but showed the experience of a veteran in Milton Keynes, with his 6-5 victory the third successive match he has won in a deciding frame.

The Chinese cueman was value for the win too, with Bingham unable to pot a ball for more than an hour as his 4-2 lead became a 5-4 deficit.

And while Basildon’s finest was full of praise for his conqueror, he couldn’t help but feel a chance of back-to-back Masters finals had slipped through his fingers.

“I’m gutted. Even at 4-2, I needed two or three chances in a frame to get going,” he said.

“It felt a bit of a slog, from 4-2 I haven’t done a lot wrong and messed up a couple of hard safety shots, but it felt like I was in the chair for so long.

“I got it back to 5-5 and made a match of it, had a chance and couldn’t convert, but hats off to him, he made a good break.

“It’s sad to end my defence. I feel like my game is pretty much there, perhaps there are a couple of bits to improve on, but there’s no rest for the wicked.

“I’m back on the table on Thursday so I’ll probably have a day off on Sunday and spend some time with the family.”

Yan will head into his first Triple Crown final full of confidence, with fellow players and pundits alike in admiration at the temperament he possesses.

Bingham is certainly one of those who knows just how bright Yan’s future could be, regardless of whether or not he tastes success on Sunday.

“Yan probably fancied the job in the decider. I gave him a bit of a start in that last frame but he did a good job with it all,” he added.

“He is hard to read, he was very calm and slow round the table, he didn’t looked like he would miss too much so he made it a tough match.

“Yan had me in all sorts of trouble and he played some safety shots from which I had to play the perfect shot to get out of it,” he said.

“If I got a chance, I had to go for it. But hats off to him, he made a good break in the end to win.

“Without a doubt he can win this. He may need to get off to a better start but he’s in the final on merit, hats off to him, he’s really coming of age.”

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