17 April 2023

Mark Williams will not tempt fate after cruising into Crucible second round

17 April 2023

Mark Williams has no interest in tempting fate after cruising into the second round of the World Snooker Championship with a 10-5 win over Jimmy Robertson on Monday.

The 48-year-old beat the same player by the same score in the same round before going on to lift his improbable third world crown in 2018.

But despite continuing to show glimpses of the kind of form that factored into his dramatic career revival, Williams continues to play down the prospect of another title win.

“I don’t believe in fate, but I’m definitely playing well enough to be a danger to anyone in the competition,” said Williams. “It doesn’t mean I’m going to win it, but I’ll put a few spanners in the works.”

Williams returned on Monday trailing 5-4 after a spirited opening session by Robertson, who was searching for his first Crucible win on his fifth visit to the final stages.

But the Welshman, who continues to insist he keeps practice time to a minimum, was in a ruthless mood when play resumed, compiling breaks of 51, 69, 64 and 84 as he reeled off the six consecutive frames he required for victory.

I've practised here and there, every few days, on and off. I can't practice for four or five hours a day. I just physically can't do it, it's too hard and draining

Williams will face a similarly laid-back opponent in the second round, in the form of Belgium’s Luca Brecel, who insisted he had spent a mere 15 minutes in the pre-tournament practice room after his late-night win over Ricky Walden on Sunday.

“I haven’t practised much myself, and whether he has or hasn’t is irrelevant really,” added Williams.

“I’m just worried about myself. I’ve practised here and there, every few days, on and off. I can’t practice for four or five hours a day. I just physically can’t do it, it’s too hard and draining.

“I put an hour in here and there just to keep my form going because my form is there. I’m over the moon to get past that first-round banana skin, and now I feel like I’m involved in the tournament.”

Mark Allen wrapped up a 10-5 win over Fan Zhengyi in a concluding session that was delayed by around 40 minutes when ‘Just Stop Oil’ protesters invaded the Crucible stage.

Resuming 6-3 in front on the one table that remained unaffected, Allen made light of the interruption when he returned to complete a 126 break in the first frame of the evening and move three away from victory.

Fan responded by taking the next two but Allen wriggled through a tight 13th frame then delivered his second century, a 101, to nudge one frame from victory.

The Chinese player got the first chance in the next but broke down on a break of 31 and a knock of 64 from Allen ultimately proved enough to get him over the line.

Earlier, four-time winner John Higgins made a dominant start as he built a 7-2 overnight lead over qualifier David Grace.

Higgins racked up five half-centuries, including a break of 98 in the second frame, to surely make Tuesday’s concluding session of their first-round match a formality.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox