Both Ronnie O’Sullivan and Stephen Hendry believe John Higgins should have enough to beat Yan Bingtao in the Masters final on Sunday, but if the Wizard of Wishaw is not at his best, the Tiger will pounce.
45-year-old Higgins faces 20-year-old Yan in a clash of generations for the Paul Hunter Trophy and the top prize of £250,000.
Few, if any, were predicting this final at the start of the tournament with both men pulling off upsets to reach this stage.
Yan has downed Neil Robertson, Stephen Maguire and Stuart Bingham, all by the same 6-5 scoreline.
Higgins edged out Mark Allen in round one, stunned Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals and beat Dave Gilbert in Saturday’s semi.
Hendry has been thoroughly impressed with both men all week, but thinks the four-time world champion will have too much for the youngster who has reached the final on debut.
‘First thoughts is that I would have to say John will be too strong over 19 frames for Yan,’ Hendry said on Instagram.
‘But we’ve tipped against him all week and he’s won three [games] 6-5, Yan Bingtao, so he’s got bottle, very impressive, very solid player.
‘Does nothing exceptionally well, but does everything solidly well, which makes him very difficult to beat.
‘I fancy John but in 20 years’ time we could be looking back and saying this was Yan Bingtao’s first title of many.
‘Just hope for a good final, but I fancy John Higgins to win.’
O’Sullivan is sitting on the fence a bit more than his old rival, but still feels that Higgins will win if he performs to his best.
‘I definitely think if John plays his A game I’d make him just a slight favourite,’ the Rocket told Eurosport.
‘But if he doesn’t I’d make the other guy a favourite.
‘So for me with all the variables that are involved in any match, it’s an even-money game all day long, I just think it’s going to be a blockbuster, really.’
The match is played over 19 frames and two sessions at 1pm and 7pm on Sunday.
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