World Champion Luca Brecel remains in contention to move to the summit of the world rankings, after a rousing fightback saw him beat Robbie Williams 5-4 at the BetVictor European Masters in Nuremberg.
Belgian Brecel must make the semi-finals to surpass Ronnie O’Sullivan this week, he can do that tomorrow if he comes through the two scheduled rounds. First up, Brecel faces three-time ranking event winner Barry Hawkins, who beat Zak Surety 5-1.
It had looked as if the Crucible king was set to exit the event this afternoon when breaks of 91, 53 and 67 moved world number 47 Williams into a surprise 3-0 lead. Brecel responded with four on the bounce to move one from victory at 4-3, before Williams took the game to what would prove to be a memorable decider.
With the pressure on, Brecel stepped up and fired home the 200th century break of his career, with a sublime total clearance of 134, to ensure his progression to the next round.
“It was a brilliant moment. At 3-0 down, I wasn’t in the game and he was playing really well. I think I had to take my chance in the frame before the interval. At 4-0 down there is probably no chance. I’m really proud of myself to keep fighting,” said 28-year-old Brecel.
“There have been World Champions that have struggled in the past, but I kind of like it. Always being on table one focusses me. Maybe on a different table at 3-0 down I would have given up easier. Now I am a World Champion, I have a responsibility to the crowd and snooker in general.
“I have a good chance now (to become world number one). I’m only two games away and there is a lot to play for. It is something new for me to play for so much. The World Championship and now the world number one spot. It’s exciting times.”
Elsewhere in the afternoon session, former European Masters winner Jimmy Robertson defeated three-time World Champion Mark Williams 5-4 and Mark Selby defeated Anthony Hamilton 5-1.