THRILLING Selby vs Hawkins DECIDER | MrQ UK Championship

Williams Downs Vafaei In Thriller

Mark Williams held off a Hossein Vafaei fightback to clinch his place in the final of the Evergrande China Championship with a 6-5 win.

Tomorrow will be the 35th time Williams has graced a ranking event final. He will be up against either Shaun Murphy or Mark Selby over 19 frames, with the winner picking up £150,000.

22-time ranking event winner Williams hasn’t appeared in a final since the Yushan World Open at the start of last season. On that occasion he mounted a remarkable comeback to beat David Gilbert 10-9 from 9-5 down.

Vafaei will have to wait in his quest to reach a maiden ranking event final. The Iranian number one has now lost all three of his semi-final appearances, having also bowed out in the last four at the 2017 China Open and the 2019 Welsh Open.

It had looked as if Williams was in for a comfortable afternoon today when he took the opening three frames to lead 3-0.

The Welshman then appeared to be in position to go four up at the mid-session. Vafaei was trailing in the frame and came to the table with the white stuck perilously underneath the jaws of the left hand baulk pocket. However, he deposited a sensational long red to set up a clearance of 42 which made it 3-1.

They then traded frames, with Vafaei composing a superb break of 134 to stay in touch at 4-2 down.

Williams made it 5-2, before three frames on the bounce from Vafaei forced a decider. Three-time World Champion Williams showed his mettle by potting an incredible cut back red to the top right corner to set up a break of 91 which wrapped up victory.

“He was looking stronger towards the end. I pulled out a fantastic red. I thought I had to go for it,” said 44-year-old Williams. “I could have played that shot another 20 times and not got it. I am glad to get over the line.

“Apart from four frames on the bounce against David Gilbert I have been playing my C game. I have just been sticking in there. I haven’t had a century break since I have been here. I’ll have to play better to win the final. Even if I lose the final who cares, I am amazed I am still here.”