China’s Yan Bingtao will step out for his Masters debut next week, having broken into the world’s top 16 for the first time last year.
World number 11 Yan won his maiden ranking title at the 2019 Riga Masters and has since shown remarkable consistency levels to seal his place the top 16 of the rankings, which saw him qualify automatically for last year’s Betfred World Championship.
The 20-year-old faces a baptism of fire at snooker’s most prestigious invitational event, going head to head with current UK Champion Neil Robertson.
We caught up with Yan to find out how he is feeling ahead of next week…
Yan, how excited are you to be competing at the Masters for the first time in your career?
“I’m extremely excited. I’ve grown up watching the best players compete at the Masters and I never thought I would be one of them. To be in the event is a great achievement in itself and I’m looking forward to playing.”
You face world number three Neil Robertson in the opening round. How much are you looking forward to facing such an illustrious opponent?
“I’m quite relaxed about the match. I’ve been playing for many years as a professional now and have played against most of the top 16 before. As a result it isn’t going to be a shock facing these top players, I’m used to it. If I play with a good attitude and produce my best form, then I know I can beat anyone.”
How difficult has it been over the last year not being able to go back to China and having to stay in the UK due to the coronavirus situation?
“This is the longest time I have ever been in the UK for. Life isn’t normal for anybody at the moment and I am no different. However, I feel like Sheffield and the UK is my second home now and I’ve really settled into living here.”
Having now qualified for the Masters is the next goal to become a permanent fixture in the top 16 and make sure you are regularly in these events for years to come?
“Absolutely, I am working very hard to make sure I am in the top 16 going forward. I’m not disappointed that the Masters isn’t at Alexandra Palace this year, I think we are just lucky to be playing snooker. I’m going to try and make sure I am playing in the Masters for years to come and hopefully I can play at Alexandra Palace next time.”