25 april 2021 publish date
Mark Williams put on a supreme performance to down familiar foe John Higgins 13-7 in their second round meeting at the Betfred World Championship.
The clash was a repeat of the 2018 world final, when three-time Crucible king Williams defeated four-time World Champion Higgins 18-16 in an epic contest.
Welshman Williams, who has described his current brand of snooker as “carefree”, has officially become the fastest player in the world during this event, moving to the top of the average shot times. Williams is now taking just 18.1 seconds per shot for the season.
He will face either Mark Selby or Mark Allen in the quarter-finals. If he were to win, then 46-year-old Williams would be the oldest Crucible semi-finalist since Ray Reardon achieved the feat in 1985, aged 52.
Defeat for Scotland’s Higgins extends his wait for a fifth world title. The Glaswegian last won at the Theatre of Dreams in 2011. However, he does end the season having notched up the 31st ranking title of his illustrious career, after victory at the Players Championship last month.
Williams came into this evening holding a 10-6 advantage following a morning session, which saw Higgins take the final three frames to keep his hopes alive.
Williams started fastest tonight, crafting a break of 76 to extend his advantage. Despite Higgins pulling back to 11-7, it was Williams who fired in runs of 85 and 77 to burst over the line and clinch a place in the quarter-finals.
Williams said: “I think I played really good solid stuff the whole way through. I can’t play much more solidly than that. My safety was good and some of my long balls were good. Some of the ones I went for were ridiculous. I loved every minute and I was enjoying it.
“If I get on a roll, I can win a few frames in half an hour. It can put a bit of pressure on their safety more than anything. If their safety isn’t any good, I’m going for it regardless of where the balls are.
“I probably played as well tonight as I did back in 2018. I’m just being honest though. Back in 2018, I thought I had a great chance of winning this and told people that before we even started. I don’t feel like that this year. If I felt like that I would tell you, whether or not you believe me, I don’t know.”
Last year’s losing finalist Kyren Wilson battled past 2013 runner-up Barry Hawkins 13-10 in a high quality second round encounter at the Betfred World Championship.
Both players are accustomed to success at the Crucible and they now boast 12 quarter-final appearances at the event between them. Hawkins had already appeared in the last eight on six occasions, while Wilson progresses to face the in form Neil Robertson in what will be his sixth consecutive World Championship quarter-final appearance.
They summoned a scintillating standard of play throughout this second round tie. Across the 23 frames that were played, there were 22 breaks over 50, including four century contributions.
It was Wilson who held a 9-7 lead at the start of play this afternoon. However, Hawkins had the momentum after rallying to close the gap to just two frames from 9-4 down.
Breaks of 107 and 53 in the opening two frames this afternoon saw the Hawk complete the fightback and level the tie at 9-9. However, Wilson responded to take the following two frames and head into the mid-session 11-9 in front.
Hawkins pulled back within a frame, before Wilson ruthlessly closed out the win with breaks of 90 and 102 to round off his 13-10 victory.
Wilson said: “I was really pleased with the way I handled it. I never got on top of myself at any moment. I give myself a kick up the backside every now and then, but I kept in check and made sure I stayed positive.
“Anything below my best in the quarter-finals against Neil Robertson and I am going home. That only gives me one thing to think about in my mind. I have to play good snooker. Sometimes it is quite nice to have that main focus. Neil has been tipped to win the tournament and is a heavy favourite. I feel like that is a win win situation there.
“I’ve been scoring very heavily this season. Neil has always scored very heavily. I hope it is that case again in the quarter-finals and the fans enjoy watching some great snooker.”
The article is based on WST.TV