Mark Williams came from 3-1 down to beat Mark Selby 4-3 in the second round of the Players Championship and further strengthen his chances of qualifying automatically for the World Championship.
The in-form Welshman looked to be heading home before Selby broke down on 65 in the fifth frame with victory in sight.
Williams cleared the table, then won another tight frame to force a decider, which he took with a useful break of 60 to deny the world champion.
The 40 year-old has fond memories of Thailand having tasted ranking event success in the Far East nation on no fewer than three occasions in the past.
After runs to the semi-finals and quarter-finals of nearly all the tournaments he has entered since October, Williams will surely be keen to cap it all off with some silverware and a neat champion’s cheque – with 100,000 pounds on offer this week for the top dog in Bangkok.
Furthermore, with every additional victory he manages to achieve, the two-time Crucible champion edges nearer guaranteeing his spot in Sheffield in less than a month’s time.
Helping his cause is the fact that Scotland’s Stephen Maguire, who lies one place below Williams in the world rankings and in the last automatic spot, was downed 4-3 by Michael Holt on Thursday.
However, even though closest challengers Michael White and Robert Milkins have already lost, the likes of Englishmen Mark Davis and Martin Gould still have a fighting chance of squeezing in at the last minute if they can emerge victorious this week or next in China.
Both still in search of their maiden ranking event triumphs, now would be the perfect time to accomplish the feat and Davis knocked out two-time Players Championship runner-up Neil Robertson to reach the last eight – despite a 138 from the Australian.
Gould, meanwhile, ousted 2011 champion Shaun Murphy 4-2 in a repeat of that year’s final in Dublin – his first ever victory over the ‘Magician’.
The 33 year-old will be hoping to record another modicum of revenge in his upcoming tie with Judd Trump, having let a 5-1 lead slip to his younger compatriot in last week’s World Grand Prix semi-finals.
Trump, who of course went on to capture the trophy in Llandudno, compiled breaks of 78 and 83 in beating Mark King 4-2.
Elsewhere, Stuart Bingham got one over on his fierce rival Mark Allen, with a high-scoring affair between the pair ending 4-2 in favour of ‘Ballrun’.
Finally, Matthew Selt continued his good form this season and reached only his third ever ranking event quarter-final with a two-frame defeat of Chris Wakelin, while Joe Perry edged Scotland’s Anthony McGill in a decider.
On Friday the field will be whittled down to the final four.
Categories: Snooker News