Williams lost to Mark Selby in the final in Beijing last year
Mark Allen missed a match-ball red against Mark Williams at the Fuhua Group China Open, his 6-5 defeat costing him a place in the quarter-finals and potentially a spot at the Crucible.
Allen needed to win the match to guarantee himself a top 16 ranking at the end of this tournament and an automatic place at the Betfred World Championship later this month. Instead he must hope that one of Jack Lisowski or Tom Ford do not go all the way to the £225,000 top prize in Beijing, as either of those players can jump into the top 16 by winning the title. That would knock Allen out and leave him facing the qualifying rounds.
Williams, chasing his third ranking title of the season, was off to a superb start today as breaks of 130 and 87 gave him the first two frames, and he added the third on a respotted black. Allen battled back to 4-4 with top runs of 69, 81 and 71. Williams regained the lead with an 86 then Allen’s 65 set up the decider.
Northern Irishman Allen looked to be cruising over the winning line until, leading 66-4 on a break of 51, he missed a red to a top corner. The balls were left at the mercy of Williams and he made no mistake with a calm 67 clearance.
Masters champion Allen said: “I have lost what seems like ten deciders this season, and as soon as I missed I thought ‘here we go again, he’s going to clear up.’ And he did. I am the one left sweating on the possibility of a surprise winner, so I’ll be checking the results.
“It was a strange match, there was some good stuff and some poor stuff when it got a bit scrappy. Most of the time I was just hanging in there.”
Welshman Williams will now play Mark Selby, who has struggled for form in recent months but looks to be getting back to his best with his World title defence around the corner. He thrashed Lyu Hoatian 6-1 with top breaks of 77, 118, 55 and 108.
Neil Robertson also showed his break-building class as he beat Zhou Yuelong 6-1 with runs of 110, 68, 74 and 72. He now meets Stuart Bingham who eased to a 6-2 victory over Graeme Dott with a top break of 105.
Wilson won his only ranking title at the 2015 Shanghai Masters
Kyren Wilson scored an impressive 6-5 win over home favourite Ding Junhui, in a match which featured two centuries and eight more breaks over 50. Wilson trailed 4-2 and by 69 points in the seventh frame, but hit back to snatch that one after getting a snooker on the last red. He took the next two with runs of 65 and 111 to lead 5-4.
Ding won frame ten with a 33 clearance and he led 61-0 in the decider, only for Kettering’s Wilson to make an excellent 67 clearance.
He now meets Jack Lisowski, who kept his fine run going with a 6-2 win over Gary Wilson, firing breaks of 52, 88, 81 and 60. Lisowski reached the first ranking event semi-final of his career earlier this season at the Shanghai Masters and will match that if he can beat Wilson.
Barry Hawkins came from 5-2 down to beat Cao Yupeng 6-5. Cao, one of five Chinese players to lose in the last 16, had chances to win in the eighth, ninth and tenth frames but couldn’t take them and Hawkins eventually won with a 71 in the decider. His next opponent is Tom Ford, who eased to a 6-2 win over Luo Honghao with top runs of 90 and 93.
Friday’s Quarter-final line-up
Mark Selby v Mark Williams
Jack Lisowski v Kyren Wilson
Neil Robertson v Stuart Bingham
Tom Ford v Barry Hawkins