Three-time Crucible king Mark Williams insisted that no one can question his ‘bottle’ after beating Stuart Bingham 13-11 in the second round of the Betfred World Championship.
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Williams came from 9-8 down to win five of the last seven frames and book a quarter-final meeting with Ronnie O’Sullivan or Ding Junhui. At the age of 45, he is the oldest player to reach the last eight in Sheffield since Steve Davis in 2010.
“There was a lot of pressure in that session and I produced my best stuff,” said Williams. “People can question my game but they can’t question my bottle. It’s not easy out there but I stuck in there. I threw away a few frames and missed easy balls but that’s my game now – when I miss I have to put it out of my mind.”
The Welshman won this title in 2000, 2003 and 2018 – one more victory would bring him level with John Higgins on four crowns. Williams has shown few signs of form in recent months – his only ranking final this season came at the China Championship last September when he lost to Shaun Murphy. But, like all of the greats, he has a habit of coming alive at the Crucible.
Masters champion Bingham made a break of 70 in the opening frame today to go 9-8 ahead, then Williams took the next two with 67 and 90. Bingham’s 51 made it 10-10 at the interval, then world number three Williams won frame 21 with a run of 74.
The 22nd came down to a safety battle on the pink and 2015 World Champion Bingham outfoxed his opponent to level at 11-11. In frame 23, Bingham trailed 55-44 when he went full-blooded at a long pot on the penultimate red, and missed his target. Williams added 23 points to edge 12-11 ahead.
An excellent break of 75 put Williams in control of frame 24, and while Bingham battled hard for snookers, when Williams potted yellow and green the game was up.
“I would love to play Ronnie in the next round because we grew up together as juniors and we haven’t played here for a while,” Williams added. “I would have to play out of my skin and even if I did it still might not be enough. What’s the worst thing that could happen? If I lose 13-0 I’ll just go home. All the pressure would be on Ronnie and I would just enjoy the experience.”
Meanwhile, defending champion Judd Trump wrestled the initiative away from Yan Bingtao to take a 9-7 lead going into their concluding session, which starts at 7pm tonight.
Trump trailed 5-2 at one stage, then won seven frames in a row before losing the last two of the session. He needs four more frames tonight to earn a quarter-final against Martin Gould or Kyren Wilson.
The first two frames today lasted 77 minutes in total and world number one Trump took them both to level at the match at 5-5. He then stepped up the pace as runs of 88, 73 and 93 helped him win the next four to lead 9-5.
China’s Yan won the 15th on the colours and made an 89 clearance in the last of the session to keep his hopes alive.