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Williams Boosts Top 16 Hopes

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Home favourite Mark Williams won a local derby 4-2 against Jamie Jones to reach the last 16 of the BetVictor Welsh Open – and improve his chances of being at the Crucible in April.

Cwm’s Williams made a top break of 105 against Neath’s Jones as he set up a fourth round tie against Judd Trump in Cardiff.

Currently ranked 16th, Williams will probably need to be placed in the top 15 (with Ali Carter seeded 13th regardless of his ranking) after the China Open to gain one of the 16 automatic spots in the final stages of the World Championship. Otherwise, he will face the task of winning three qualifying matches at Ponds Forge in Sheffield to earn a place at the nearby Crucible.

“I’m trying to win as much prize money as I can to get one of those 15 spots,” said the two-time World Champion. “It looks like it’s going to be a race between me, Graeme Dott and Robert Milkins for one place and it’s going to be really close. I’m glad those two are out of this one. I’m happy to get through tonight because it was a tough game. I’ve won a lot of matches over the last few months and that gives me more confidence.”

Trump saw off Michael Wasley 4-2 with a top break of 87.

Stephen Maguire made a 116 in a 4-2 win over Sam Baird and now meets fellow Scot Alan McManus, who top scored with 51 in a 4-0 win over Aditya Mehta.

Hong Kong’s Marco Fu started the Chinese New Year in style with a 4-2 win over amateur Ashley Carty. John Higgins impressed in a 4-0 win over Liang Wenbo, compiling runs of 58, 51, 103 and 65.

Belgium’s Luca Brecel beat Oliver Brown 4-0 with a best break of 58 while Stuart Bingham saw off Michael White 4-1 with a top run of 57.