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Williams Survives Akbar Challenge

Mark WilliamsMark Williams came through a tough test against Hamza Akbar at the Betway UK Championship, winning 6-4 to reach the last 64 in York.

Welshman Williams, who won this title in 1999 and 2002, looked to be cruising towards a second round match against Tom Ford when he led 4-0. Tour rookie Akbar, Pakistan’s only professional, fought back by winning four of the next five frames with top breaks of 55, 76 and 58. But world number 13 Williams eventually finished the job in frame ten with a run of 50.

“It was looking comfortable at 4-0, then he started potting a lot of balls and put me under pressure,” said Williams, a semi-finalist at the recent Bulgarian Open. “I was missing a few and it could have gone 5-5.

“I’m lucky in that I’ve always played the balls rather than the player. My attitude has always been that the worst thing that can happen is you lose and you go home, which doesn’t bother me that much.”

Ricky WaldenWorld number 12 Ricky Walden, a semi-finalist in York in 2011 and 2013, saw off Brazil’s Itaro Santos 6-1 with top breaks of 68, 89 and 69. Chester’s Walden became a father for the first time in September which caused him to withdraw from the Shanghai Masters, and he then lost in the opening round of the International Championship.

“There is always pressure on the first round matches and I was just eager to get through,” said Walden. “It has been a tricky season for me so far so I’m looking to get something going in this event. It’s all about getting a foothold in the tournament and then producing your best stuff later in the event. I’ve done that a few times here and it’s a venue I always enjoy playing at.”

Ryan Day knocked in runs of 53, 82, 92 and 53 to win a Welsh derby against Duane Jones 6-1 while Gerard Greene eased to a 6-0 victory over Michael Leslie, making brekas of 138, 93 and 78 in the last three frames.

Mike Dunn top scored with 71 in a 6-3 win over Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon while Michael Holt came from 2-0 down to beat Fraser Patrick 6-4 with a top run of 102.

Jimmy Robertson made a 118 in a 6-4 win over Lu Ning while Chinese prodigy Zhou Yuelong saw off Craig Steadman 6-3 with a top break of 76.