Williams Back at the Top

Mark Williams caused a major upset yesterday when he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan for the first time in 12 years at the International Championship in Chengdu.

Mark Williams - photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.
Mark Williams – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

His 6-5 victory over the five-time world champion, his long-term bogey player, earned him a semi-final berth in one of the sport’s most lucrative ranking events.

It marks a return to the big-time for the Welshman after a couple of seasons in the doldrums where form and results have been hard to come by.

The twice world champion endured a similar dip in form towards the end of the last decade but his talent prevailed as he made a comeback from 47th in the provisional world rankings at the time to regain his place in the number one spot.

At 39, his most recent slide down the standings led many, including maybe even himself, to believe that his time among the elite had come to an end.

However, Williams, a winner of 18 ranking events during an illustrious career, has displayed form rarely seen since 2010 and 2011 – when he was regularly featuring in big finals.

If he was to go on and claim victory on Sunday it would cap a remarkable turnaround in fortunes and totally justify his status as a legend of the game.

Indeed, there is certainly a major opportunity to achieve that goal with the top seven players in the world already gone by the wayside.

However, Williams’ last four opponent will be a tough nut to crack as he comes up against a formidable Northern Irishman in Mark Allen.

Allen has been knocking on the door of major success for quite a while now and a triumph for him could be the kickstart that he and many others have been waiting for.

In the bottom half of the draw, a surprise semi-final encounter between Ricky Walden and Robert Milkins offers one of the pair a fantastic opportunity to reach a ranking event final with 125,000 up for grabs for the winner, and a cool 65,000 for second place.

The semi-final stage see the length of the matches increase to best of 17 frames with the Williams-Allen clash taking place on Friday, and the second bout being contested on Saturday.

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