Mark Williams and Jackson Page will face each other in the second round of the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.
Mark Williams’ season so far
The 2021/22 season has been a little up and down for Williams, who turned 47 last month – yes, 47.
The Welshman began the campaign in stellar fashion, capturing a 24th ranking title with success in the revamped British Open.
Williams also reached the final of the single-frame Shoot Out only to be denied another tournament triumph by Hossein Vafaei.
At the Masters in London, the former world number one looked set to reach the title decider but threw away a 5-3 lead and lost to eventual champion Neil Robertson in the last four.
Williams boasts three world titles, the last of which coming four years ago after a memorable defeat of old rival John Higgins in the final.
There have been two quarter-final appearances since then, and Williams might be quietly confident of going further than that in 2022 given his relatively open section of the draw.
Jackson Page’s season so far
Jackson Page is an undeniable talent, highlighted by his qualification in Sheffield from the very first preliminary round.
A former European under-21 champion, Page didn’t have an especially strong season prior to his exploits at the English Institute of Sport.
But by reaching the last 16, the 20 year-old has guaranteed himself a huge payday and has announced himself as a potential new force.
The guaranteed £30,000 will set him up nicely in terms of a crack at breaking into the top 64 in the world rankings for the first time.
Indeed, if Page were to win this last-16 tie he would definitely break into that bracket for the first time in his career.
What happened in the last 32?
Mark Williams and Jackson Page each scored heavily in their first-round clashes, firing in seven centuries between them.
In fact, Page’s return of three tons against Barry Hawkins was the most by a player making their Crucible debut since Ryan Day in 2004.
He produced a strong opening session and an electric ending to overcome Hawkins 10-7 – finishing with two hundred-plus contributions.
Williams was especially dominant, however, as he thoroughly dismantled the challenge of Michael White with a 10-3 scoreline.
The pair has only crossed paths once on the main tour – at the 2020 Scottish Open when the elder statesman emerged as a 4-1 winner.
However, Williams has acted as Page’s mentor for several years, so having undertaken numerous practice sessions and matches together, they will know each other’s games pretty well.
This is an exciting prospect that pits the master against the pupil, the teacher versus the prodigy.
One only has to watch some of Page’s interviews to see that his personality is already akin to that of Williams’ – calm and unflustered.
But this will surely be a more emotional affair for the youngster as he comes up against an opponent who he has learned so much from, and a champion whom he aspires to emulate.
Williams will also have the experience of having played many matches before on the biggest stage over a three-session span.
Prediction: Mark Williams 13-8 Jackson Page
Thursday, April 21st – 1pm
Friday, April 22nd – 10am and 7pm
Featured photo credit: WST