DOUBLE world champion Mark Williams has revealed that he ignored his good friend Stephen Hendry’s advice to retire before charging into the last 16 of the Bet Victor Welsh Open, writes Andrew Penman.
Gwent veteran Williams, world champ in 2000 and 2003, has had a tough few years and slipped out of the world’s top 16 and he has admitted in the past that he has considered hanging up his cue.
And in a conversation with Hendry, who retired last year aged 45 having been crowned Crucible king seven times, the Scot advised Williams to call it a day.
“I spoke to Stephen the other day and had a good chat with him,” said the Cwm potter after beating world number one Neil Robertson 4-3 at the Newport Centre yesterday.
“I told him a couple of things and he said ‘there’s only one thing left for you to do; it’s got six letters in it and it begins with R and ends with E’ and then he put the phone down!
“But I think I’ve still got titles in me,” he added. “Obviously it’s getting more difficult but I’m putting the work in so I think I have.
“I’ve been practicing every day for hours and hours, even Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, and this is probably the furthest I’ve gone in a tournament so it’s starting to pay off at the back end of the season.”
Yesterday’s win over Australian ace Robertson will have boosted Williams’ hopes of regaining a top-16 ranking and with it an automatic entry into the world championships in April.
“I don’t know how far I am behind but obviously I want to get into the top 16 before the cut-off,” he said.
“I’ve got to try to get as many points as I can because I’d be sick if I missed out on the Crucible.
“If you don’t get in the top 16 obviously you can still qualify but if you lose a qualifier you will be sick because all the hard work you’ve done throughout the year would be wiped out.
“There are about five if us fighting for the last few places so it’s going to be tight.”