Mark Williams thinks that the Alexandra Palace is the best venue in the sport after winning his first-round encounter of the 2022 Masters on Sunday in London.
There was an electric atmosphere throughout the opening day of the prestigious invitational in the English capital city, and Williams got the crowd on his side with some wizardry shots to fight back from behind and set up a quarter-final bout against either John Higgins or UK champion Zhao Xintong.
Reigning Masters champion Yan had looked composed at 3-1 in front, but the clash changed after the interval and Williams, aided by a couple of monstrous flukes, won five out of the remaining six frames to progress.
“I didn’t think anything would ever beat the Wembley Conference Centre,” Williams said in his post-match interview with WST, referencing the old venue that hosted the Masters between 1979 and 2006.
“But I think now I’ve got to admit that this is the best venue we’ve ever played in, it’s even better than the Wembley Conference Centre.”
“It’s got a big lounge at the back, you’ve got the sofas at the other end, it’s a massive arena with 2,000 people in it or however many there was – it’s hard to generate an atmosphere like that.
“Maybe the Crucible when it gets to one table has that kind of atmosphere, but that venue out there is just outstanding.
“I was a bit unlucky to be 3-1 down, I didn’t really do that much wrong and he made three really good clearances on me.
“I came out then and had a couple of flukes after the interval, but you have to make the most of them. I had a horrific fluke in the UK (Championship) at 5-5 and lost the match because of it.
“I had a good fluke there, and it hasn’t won me the game but got me a good 40-point lead – you’ve just got to take the rough with the smooth.
“I’d like to play John, I think. We’ve been around forever now, haven’t we? He’s getting older, greyer, balder, and I’m getting older, greyer, balder.
“It’s just nice to play him, especially out in there. It would be a fantastic crowd in I’d imagine, and it’d just be like the Crucible back in 2018 – it’d be brilliant.”
Later on day one, Neil Robertson recovered from a slow start to overcome Scotland’s Anthony McGill 6-3 and reach the last eight, where he awaits the winner of the tie between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jack Lisowski.
2022 Masters Draw
Yan Bingtao (1) 4-6 Mark Williams (9)
John Higgins (8) vs Zhao Xintong (10)
Neil Robertson (5) 6-3 Anthony McGill (16)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (4) vs Jack Lisowski (14)
Judd Trump (3) vs Mark Allen (12)
Kyren Wilson (6) vs Stuart Bingham (15)
Shaun Murphy (7) vs Barry Hawkins (11)
Mark Selby (2) vs Stephen Maguire (13)
Featured photo credit: WST