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Williams Buzzing After Beating Gilbert

Despite being attacked by a wasp in the closing frame, Mark Williams was thrilled to beat David Gilbert 6-2 at the Cazoo Masters, setting up a blockbuster quarter-final against Ronnie O’Sullivan.

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Williams revelled in the Alexandra Palace atmosphere last year, particularly during a 6-5 win over John Higgins, and he can look forward to another ‘Class of 92’ clash with O’Sullivan on Thursday at 1pm. Both players are sure to receive a rousing reception from 2,000 fans in their first Masters meeting since 2016.

Williams reached the semi-finals here last year

“I can never get a better reception than last year against Higgins, it was unbelievable,” said two-time champion Williams. “But it might be just as good against Ronnie. Obviously 99 per cent of the crowd will be on his side, I won’t worry about that because it will be a great occasion. I’m 48 in a couple of months so who would have thought I’d be playing Ronnie here in front of a full crowd.”

Williams showed some handy moves in the eighth frame to avoid the wasp, but his most impressive work was on the table as he made two tons and potted important balls at key moments. A quarter of a century after winning the famous respotted black final against Stephen Hendry, the Welshman is through to the quarter-finals for the 15th time.

Williams made a sizzling start as breaks of 126, 127 and 95 put him 3-0 up inside 40 minutes. In frame four, Gilbert led 49-40 when he missed the penultimate red to a baulk corner, playing with the rest. Williams’ clearance included an excellent pot on the last red along the side cushion, as he extended his lead to 4-0.

Gilbert got going after the interval with a break of 59 to reduce the deficit. In frame six, Williams led 42-0 when he missed a short range red to a top corner, and Gilbert punished him with a superb 80 clearance. The seventh came down to a safety exchange on the last red, and Williams laid a tough snooker then converted a mid range pot on the red and cleared for 5-2.

Frame eight was resolved on the colours, Gilbert missing two chances at the yellow when he led by 22 points, and Williams punished him by clearing for victory.

“I have been working with Lee Walker and playing some good stuff,” added three-time World Champion Williams. “It could have gone 4-3 at one stage but I made a couple of clearances and got over the line. Dave played well to come back and didn’t miss many balls.”

Gilbert said: “I felt great even when I was 4-0 down. The fight back was on when I got to 4-2 and in the end 6-2 probably flattered him a bit. Mark is far superior to me at safety, it was like man versus boy. I’ll miss this place and I hope I can back here again.”

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