Sports

Masters snooker 2021: Neil Robertson beaten by Yan Bingtao in first round in Milton Keynes

China’s Yan, 20. is ranked 11 in the world
Dates: 10-17 January Venue: Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website and the BBC Sport app. Highlights on BBC Two and online.

UK champion Neil Robertson suffered a shock 6-5 defeat by debutant Yan Bingtao in the first round of the Masters in Milton Keynes.

Robertson took control with breaks of 81, 121 and 82 to lead 3-1, but China’s Yan hit back with 123 to level at 3-3.

Robertson responded by going 5-3 in front, but Yan forced a decider which he snatched for an impressive win.

Mark Selby plays Stephen Maguire in the evening session (19:00 GMT), with the winner facing Yan on Friday.

World number two Robertson has been in superb form this season, edging past Judd Trump in dramatic fashion to claim the UK Championship last month, as well as being beaten in the English Open and Champion of Champions finals.

But 20-year-old world number 11 Yan caused an upset in his first appearance at the tournament with further breaks of 65 and 51 to send Robertson out on a final-frame decider at the first hurdle for the second consecutive year.

Robertson said he “took full responsibility” for his lack of preparation over Christmas, telling BBC Two: “I was surprised to be 5-3 up. I was not playing particularly well.

“It is a like a season reset for everyone having a few weeks off over Christmas and I was lacklustre in a certain areas; the tempo of the match really drained down. Without the crowd, if you let that happen, it can drag both players down. Neither of us were urgent to create chances. It felt stale the last few frames but tactically he was really good.

“You cannot play week in week out – it is mentally impossible. I felt very refreshed, didn’t play at all over Christmas and understood the potential consequences of coming here having not played but you have to have a break sometime.

“Certain players have taken certain chances with their preparation and it is tough for guys with families. To keep practising over Christmas would have meant not going to Norway with family and that is not really an option.”

Analysis – ‘It is about how much you want it’

Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry on BBC Two

“Neil will be very disappointed. He lost from 5-1 ahead last year and 5-3 ahead this time. Does he not practise over the holidays? He said he a with family but Yan Bingtao did a Mark Selby on him in the decider.

“The Masters is the second most important event of the season after the World Championship. It is about how much you want it.

“If Neil knew that match was going stale, he has to do something about it by taking on a shot and consciously make yourself quicker. If the match is going like that and there is no crowd as well, the atmosphere can seem to get lower and lower.”

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