Mark Williams won five frames in a row to battle past talented Chinese 20-year-old Zhao Xintong 10-7 at Betfred World Championship Qualifying.
The Welshman came agonizingly close to pushing himself into the world’s top 16 and avoiding qualifying at Ponds Forge. He needed to win last week’s China Open to pip compatriot Ryan Day. Williams went all the way to the final, where he lost out a hard fought battle to the current World Champion Mark Selby.
This morning’s play saw Williams establish a 4-0 advantage, however Zhao fought back valiantly to trail by just one frame going into tonight at 5-4.
Zhao, who is already developing a reputation for his aggressive playing style, attacked from the off this evening. His bold approach was rewarded, as he claimed the opening three frames, making breaks of 58 and 78 along the way to lead 7-5.
It was at this point that Zhao’s aggressive shot choices started to go astray. Williams punished some errant shots, compiling runs of 60, 86 and 51 on his way to five in a row and a 10-7 win.
Williams remarked: “I haven’t really got over the China trip yet, but somehow I found something from 7-5 down and it is a really good win for me.
“I’m just over the moon that I managed to get through,” said the two-time World Champion. “He is the one that everybody wanted to avoid. I just had a feeling I was going to get him.
“I’ve been watching him a lot and if anything he has really frustrated me. He has the ability to win tournaments, he is that good. He just goes for the most outrageous shots that you shouldn’t be going for and that is the only reason that he hasn’t got to the latter stages of tournaments yet. If you could get him down to my club for 12 months I think I could make him a tournament winner.”
Ken Doherty kept his hopes of retaining his tour card alive with a 10-4 defeat of Jason Weston. The 1997 World Champion last qualified for the Crucible in 2014, where he recorded a memorable defeat of Stuart Bingham. He may need to go all the way to snooker’s Theatre of Dreams again to ensure survival.
2004 UK Champion Stephen Maguire was pushed hard by Kritsanut Lertsattayathorn, but eventually came through a 10-7 winner. He made 54, 54, 65 and 67 whilst securing the win this evening. Next up for Maguire is 1995 world finalist Nigel Bond.
Anthony Hamilton is still on course to round off a brilliant campaign, which has seen him pick up his maiden ranking title, with a trip to the Crucible. The 2017 German Masters Champion defeated Craig Steadman 10-5 to progress to round two.
World number 112 Sydney Wilson recorded a big shock, defeating Norway’s world number 43 Kurt Maflin 10-6.
For full results click here.