Mark Williams has shed light on a tense moment during his Masters win over Ronnie O’Sullivan on Thursday, during which he was almost distracted at a crucial moment. The Welshman booked his spot in the semi-finals with a thrilling comeback win over the Rocket, with Hossein Vafaei and Jack Lisowski facing each other later in the day.
Going into the match, the head-to-head record was dominated by O’Sullivan with the 47-year-old claiming 33 wins in their 41 matches. The first three frames therefore went according to script as he raced into a commanding 3-0 lead, including breaks of 115 and 79.
Williams’ fightback was a spirited one, however, and he notched the highest break of the tournament so far – 143 – before O’Sullivan forced a crunch decider. Williams came away with the 6-5 win and will play the winner of Vafaei and Lisowski in the final four.
With the crowd gripped by what was a tense encounter, Williams was asked about a dicey moment during the match, in which he claimed to want the commentator to ‘shut up’ as the crowd around him laughed.
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“I had a long red but I knew, if I missed, that he’s probably going to clean up the frame. I could play the other one, go off two cushions up to the green,” the 24-time ranking title winner told the BBC. “I got down to get ready, I don’t know what the commentator has said but everyone started laughing. I got up and was like ‘shut up, this is an important shot for me, be quiet!’”
Snooker legend Steve Davis then interjected, explaining: “Just to be fair to him, [the commentator] didn’t say anything funny, he was just talking about you being between the two shots. It was just because the crowd was so nervous!”
O’Sullivan holds the record for the most Masters titles in snooker history with seven, although he has not added to that haul since 2017. The Englishman was still humble in defeat after seeing his fate sealed against Williams, who picked up his first win over the straight-talking star in almost nine years.
“I just didn’t score,” explained O’Sullivan. “I didn’t make any breaks. The cue ball wasn’t great. I hung in there. 3-0, he struggled a little bit. But he played better today, he played the better snooker. He was more clinical. I was happy to get it 5-5, I had the chance in the last, but when you’re not cueing well – blacks like that are missable.
“I’m pleased how I dug in today. Can’t be too disappointed. It was just pure battling qualities. At 5-4 you think, ‘I’ve got to make it happen.’ There was just far too many mistakes in there for me. Some basic, basic mistakes. It’s just the way it goes.
“He’s been playing well for a long time. Since he won the World Championships, I don’t know what year it was, 2019? Since then he’s been playing phenomenally consistent, scoring really well. I’m surprised he hasn’t won more given the quality he has and how well he’s playing. Hopefully he goes on and wins this. He deserves it.”