Mark Williams admits that the effects of Covid and gout have left him exhausted, but he summoned the energy to beat Lei Peifan 6-3 in the first round of the Cazoo UK Championship.
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Welshman Williams has suffered from both illnesses in recent weeks and had to pull out of the BetVictor English Open and BetVictor European Masters. Following a period of isolation he has recovered enough to be able to compete, but is still battling symptoms.
Williams won the British Open earlier this season
“I am knackered all the time and my body aches,” said the three-time World Champion. “The gout has gone and I’m improving every day since I got through Covid, but I am still very tired. They are two things I never want to get again.’’
Williams made top breaks of 106 and 112 against China’s Lei as he set up a second round match with Anthony Hamilton or Allan Taylor.
World number one Mark Selby also progressed safely into the last 64 as he beat Ross Muir 6-2. Two-time UK Champion Selby was hauled back from 2-0 to 2-2, but then stepped up a gear after the interval and compiled runs of 67, 93, 95 as he earned a match with Hossein Vafaei or Pang Junxu.
“I played well really from start to finish,” said Leicester’s Selby. “Ross started well, at the interval I was happy to be at 2-2 because I could have easily been 3-1 down. After the interval I played a lot better, when I got my chances I took them.
“Ross is a good player as he was on the tour himself a few years ago. It’s not the easiest first round draw because you look at some of the amateurs and the standard they play to is probably better than some of the pros on the tour.”
Ding Junhui, who has lifted the trophy three times, saw off Zhang Anda 6-2 with a top break of 129. Barry Hawkins beat women’s World Champion Reanne Evans 6-1 with a top run of 94.