WELSH OPEN SNOOKER: Gwent's Mark Williams finds his form to ease into next round
MARK Williams felt his hometown tournament allowed him to lift his game after dispatching Liu Chuang 4-1 in their Welsh Open first round clash today.
The Cwm-potter needed less than 90 minutes to dispatch his young opponent with three breaks over 50 helping him to a quick-fire victory.
And while Williams admits there is pressure on him to perform in Gwent, he’s feeling relaxed about his prospects.
“There is more pressure on me when we’re in Newport but I’ve been playing so poorly recently I haven’t been worried about it,” he said.
“I didn’t worry about playing the shots, I just did it and to be honest that’s the best I’ve played for some time.
“My experience helped me maybe, I’m not sure. But my safeties were quite good, I didn’t miss anything easy, which is very unusual for me recently, and I really can’t complain at all.
“I’ve maybe come here in a different frame of mind. I’ve just got on with it and gone for my shots and it’s worked out well.”
Williams admits he hardly arrived in Newport with high hopes for a successful tournament.
“I started the season quite well but in recent times I’ve been dire to be honest and a break of 30 has looked beyond me, let alone three 50s,” he said.
“But hopefully this can inspire something in my game.”
An estimated 30 million people watched the clash in Chuang’s native China. Williams won the tournament in 1996 and 1999 but has admittedly underperformed in the event in recent years, with his runner-up finish in 2003 being his best performance since the turn of the century.
Liu got the first points on the table but Williams soon set about asserting himself with a break of 66.
The Welshman missed a presentable red to give his opponent another chance but a clinical red for Williams saw him clinch the first frame.
However, Liu hit back to take the second before some superb, innovative shots guided Williams to the third with Liu just an onlooker.
There was a cagey opening to the fourth before Williams took control to move into a 3-1 lead and to the brink of victory.
Williams started the fifth with a break of 32 but Liu was still cool, making life hard for his opponent with a series of snookers.
However, Williams was patient and when his chance arose he sharply potted a red with Liu conceding to set up a meeting with Robert Milkins in the last 32.
It was a different story in the morning session with in-form Welshman Ryan Day crashing out to Liang Wenbo 4-1 to even the score between the Dragons of China and Wales.
Gareth Allen was another Welshman beaten at the first hurdle, losing to former world champion John Higgins, also 4-1.