The Welshman claimed his 24th ranking title 24 years after he first captured the British Open prize.
Mark Williams secured a brilliant British Open triumph on Sunday night after a closely fought 6-4 victory over Gary Wilson at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
The three-time former world champion produced his best snooker of the entire week to hold off the challenge of Wilson, who came agonisingly short of claiming a maiden ranking title.
In a close battle in which there was never more than a frame between them until the very end, the experience of Williams was arguably what ultimately separated the pair.
After sharing the opening two frames, the Welshman scored his first century break of the tournament with a 111 in the third frame only for Wilson to respond with a run of 62 to restore parity at the interval.
The latter went in front following the brief respite courtesy of a tidy 101 contribution, but Williams, the WST Pro Series champion from earlier in 2021, won the next two to regain the advantage.
Wilson, a former China Open runner-up, refused to go away and edged the eighth frame to set up a dramatic finale in which a £100,000 champion’s cheque was on the line.
However, Williams stepped up a gear at just the right moment, orchestrating an excellent 115 ton before seeing out the tenth and final frame in relative comfort to complete his British Open success.
Victory consolidates the 46 year-old’s status as the fifth most prolific ranking event winner, now just four behind Steve Davis’ tally of 28, while it’s a remarkable 25 years after his maiden glory in 1996.
“I’m a little bit fortunate to win it,” Williams said in his post-match press conference soon after raising the British Open trophy aloft in front of a big crowd in Leicester.
“There were two or probably three matches that I definitely should have lost but managed to win them – it was like it was almost destined for me.”
“Every time it looked like I was going to get beat, they’d miss something or I’d do some good clearances at the right time.
“I thought I played really solid tonight. I missed a few balls, that’s the way it is, but overall I thought I played really good. I felt good out there, I made a few good breaks today.”
Wilson, meanwhile, was understandably disappointed in the immediate aftermath of the defeat, but there has been an impressive transformation in his form over the last four or five months.
The 36 year-old had dropped far down the rankings list and was even in some danger of dropping off the tour towards the climax of the last term, but he has rebounded strongly and will once more be back among the top 32.
As for the returning British Open, there were certainly many positives to take from what was generally a decent week of action.
The format has split opinion, with many in favour of the shorter matches that can often lead to closer conclusions, and equally as many opposed.
There is definitely a place for shorter formats on the calendar, but one gripe would be with how the prize money is reflected in an event’s overall shape and status.
A jackpot worth £100,000 – more than what is offered in tournaments such as the German Masters or in the Home Nations series – seems a lot for an event that can’t even muster a two-session final.
Still, the random draw was an exciting element that gave better opportunities to the likes of Wilson and Jimmy Robertson to make deep runs, while it was terrific to have fans back in attendance.
And although he may not outwardly express it, Williams will undoubtedly be delighted with his British Open triumph that serves to reaffirm his credentials as one of the all-time greats.
Featured photo credit: WPBSA