An astonishing fluke on the final pink in the deciding frame put Mark Williams into the second round of the 888.com World Grand Prix with a 4-3 victory over Ryan Day.
Williams has shown fine form in recent weeks, reaching the semi-finals of the Welsh Open and Indian Open and winning the World Seniors Championship. And today’s victory in an all-Welsh clash with Day set up a last 16 meeting with Ricky Walden tomorrow at the £300,000 event in Llandudno.
Day led 3-1 after top breaks of 58 and 52 before Williams recovered to 3-3. Day then build a 60-1 lead in the decider but could not take chances to get over the line. Williams made 53 before running out of position on the blue, and a safety battle on the pink followed with the scores tied at 60-60. Day seemed to have the upper hand when he laid a snooker, leaving the pink on the baulk cushion. But Williams came off a side cushion to hit the pink, and sent it off two cushions and down the table to drop dead weight into a top corner. He was left with a simple black to leave his friend in despair.
“I got lucky,” admitted Williams, who turns 40 on Saturday. “The pink was ridiculous in the end, it was a ridiculous fluke. When you’re on a bit of a run, you get those things. All I could do was hit it and hope for the best. I just wanted to see if I could get away with it. But when I saw it going towards the black bag, I couldn’t believe it. I knew it was in just as it passed the blue, I was in the line with it. I’m sick for Ryan for losing like that, it’s not nice as I’m good friends with him.
“I felt quite tired out there which I think is pretty natural. I’ve been flat out for the last five to six weeks playing near enough every day. I know it’s going to catch up with me – all the travelling and the amount of tournaments. If I’d have lost to Ryan here, I’d have been going home happily for four or five days with the family and the kids before the next tournament.
“I’ve had to enter every tournament because of the top 16 ranking. It is mentally draining playing day in, day out. I’ve had a good run in a few events, got to a couple of semi-finals. My main aim was to get to the Crucible. I’m on the right road and I’ve got to go to Thailand and China to make sure I stay in there.”
Graeme Dott also came through an exciting finish, beating John Higgins 4-3 in a high quality contest which featured runs of 80 and 69 from Higgins and 51, 63 and 78 from Dott. The last frame was a scrappy one and was resolved when Dott laid a tough snooker, and then made an excellent 39 which proved enough.
Judd Trump eased to a 4-0 win over Dominic Dale, highlighted by a tournament-high break of 140. He now meets Joe Perry. “I felt good,” said Trump. “I potted a few long balls and it gave me confidence, and in the balls my position was good. I just tried to play quick and enjoy myself. You don’t play like that all the time on the TV. It’s anyone’s tournament so whoever gets that little bit of luck will win it.”
Michael White’s blistering run came to an end, having won the Shoot-Out and Indian Open this month, as he lost 4-2 to Robert Milkins. Gloucester’s Milkins top-scored with 62 as he set up a clash with Ronnie O’Sullivan.