John Higgins holds a 5-3 advantage over debutant Yan Bingtao after the first session of the Betfred Masters final.
Scotland’s 45-year-old Higgins is bidding to become the oldest ever winner of the Masters with victory tonight. The four-time World Champion would surpass Stuart Bingham, who set the record last year at the age of 43.
Chinese 20-year-old Yan would be the youngest winner since Ronnie O’Sullivan lifted the title at the age of 19 back in 1995.
The pair will return to play out the remainder of the best of 19 encounter at 7pm, with the winner taking home £250,000 and the Paul Hunter Trophy.
It was the less experienced Yan who took an early lead this afternoon, composing runs of 66 and 33 to go 1-0 up. However, two-time Masters winner Higgins responded by taking the second to restore parity.
Both players had chances in a scrappy third, but Yan eventually edged it on the black to regain his lead at 2-1. Crucially Higgins made it 2-2 at the mid-session after a break of 63
When play resumed, Higgins gained the lead for the first time with a contribution of 98 and the Glaswegian then added a third frame on the bounce to make it 4-2.
Yan fired in a break of 97 to pull within a frame, before a tense final frame of the session. It came down to the green, where a safety error from Yan allowed Higgins to secure the frame and end the session 5-3 in front.