Mark Williams Advances in York

Mark Williams is through to the last 16 of the UK Championship after a 6-3 victory over Noppon Saengkham at the Barbican Centre in York on Monday.

Williams has won four ranking titles since late 2017. Photo credit: World Snooker

The world champion, who won the last of his two UK titles 15 years ago, established an early 3-1 interval lead with breaks of 112, 72, and 54.

Although the contributions dried up from then, Williams was still able to come through enough of the scrappy exchanges to book his place in the next round.

The Welshman has an opportunity this week to regain the number one position in the world rankings after Mark Selby’s defeat in the first round last week in York.

Williams hasn’t held top spot since 2011 and, even though he prefers to deflect the idea as unimportant, being the player to overthrow Selby’s long held dominance in the rankings would still be quite a feat.

Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan was a comfortable winner as he thumped Zhou Yuelong 6-0 to race into the fourth round.

O’Sullivan, once again in the headlines at the moment for a variety of reasons other than his performances on the table, took advantage of a lacklustre display from the Chinese challenger to compile breaks of 89, 69, 68, 66, and 60.

A triumph for the “Rocket” on Sunday would represent a record-breaking seventh UK crown in his career and would also bring his tally of Triple Crown titles to 19, eclipsing Stephen Hendry’s long-standing record in that field as well.

Meanwhile, Kyren Wilson enjoyed a comfortable enough victory too as he outplayed Luo Honghao 6-2 while Stephen Maguire did his Masters aspirations no harm at all after a 6-3 success over Ali Carter.

The latter had been among a group of players just outside the top 16 who were hoping to make a late leap into the elite bracket and earn an invitation into the prestigious Masters.

But Maguire, in 15th place provisionally and set to make a return to the invitational for the first time since 2016, was able to oust his rival and stay on course to potentially add to his UK title from 2004.

Joe Perry is another player who could force his way into Masters contention, albeit the Englishman needs a run to at least the final in York, and a 6-2 triumph over Joe O’Connor ensured that he lives to fight another day.

Elsewhere, China’s Lu Ning emerged from a scrappy affair with Luca Brecel with a 6-4 scoreline to match his best run in a ranking tournament and ensure that the Belgian, in 14th place in the provisional rankings, will be looking over his shoulder for the remainder of this week.

Tom Ford and the ever-improving Martin O’Donnell were the day’s other winners as the English pair dispatched of Alan McManus and Tian Pengfei respectively.

The last 32 concludes on Tuesday with the likes of Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, and Mark Allen back in action in York.

Live coverage continues on the BBC and Eurosport.

Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)


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