Mark Williams and Jimmy Robertson will face each other in the first round of the 2023 World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.
This season for Mark Williams
Like a few other top-eight seeds, it hasn’t been an especially strong campaign for Mark Williams.
The Welshman’s most fruitful week was at the Masters in January when he reached the final only to be narrowly denied by Judd Trump at the Alexandra Palace.
Other than that, there have been a few quarter-final runs in ranking events, with just one semi-final appearance to his name way back in August.
The three-time world champion’s failure to qualify for either Players Championship or the Tour Championship accurately reflects his indifferent form.
In saying that, Williams has performed strongly in Sheffield in the last few years, and it would be foolish to write off the 48 year-old entirely from challenging again.
This season for Jimmy Robertson
It has been an unspectacular season for Jimmy Robertson, who has qualified for the World Championship for a fifth time.
The Englishman has done well to not lose many of his opening-round fixtures – therefore at least accumulating some ranking points – but he has just one appearance in the last 16 of a ranking event to show for his efforts.
Robertson qualified for the German Masters and took advantage of Zhao Jianbo’s suspension to reach the second round at the Tempodrom.
The former European Masters champion has never won a match at the Crucible Theatre, but he produced decent displays in the qualifiers.
After overcoming talented young Belgian Ben Mertens in the penultimate round, Robertson thrashed Anthony Hamilton 10-2 on Judgement Day.
Williams and Robertson head-to-head
The head-to-head does not bode well for Robertson finally winning a match at the Crucible Theatre.
Williams has played the Englishman ten times in the past and has won all ten – including an encounter at the same stage in Sheffield five years ago.
That clash ended 10-5 and there have been a few thrashings thrown into the mix, with a 6-0 in the 2014 UK Championship and a couple of other 4-0s.
Well, if Robertson were to bag that maiden World Championship victory against a formidable opponent like Williams who he has never beaten, it would be quite the feat.
It’s hard to see it materialise from a player who, albeit did win a ranking title, has so often struggled under the pressures of the TV lights.
This has the makings of being one of the more one-sided affairs of the first round.
Prediction: Mark Williams 10-4 Jimmy Robertson
Sunday, April 16th – 2:30pm
Monday, April 17th – 2:30pm
Featured photo credit: WST