EXPERIMENTER Mark Williams says he was ‘fighting against the gods’ in his first round Masters defeat against Shaun Murphy.

And the Cwm potter admits even a bizarre break off shot in the final frame was not enough to halt the world No.7 battling to a narrow 6-4 victory.

Three-time world champion Williams watched Murphy knock in long red after long red from his early break offs in Milton Keynes.

So the world No.15 tried an unorthodox break in the tenth frame where he rolled the cue ball in behind the pack off the cushion.

The shot is rarely ever seen in the professional game and Williams, Masters champion in 1998 and 2003, admits it was a sign of desperation after his rotten baize luck.

The 45-year-old said: “I felt I had quite a few bad nudges in the whole match and was fighting the gods a little bit.

“It was a good game, I enjoyed it and I tried my best. These players you’re playing against now are really good.

“I could have gone 5-5 and was a little bit unlucky, but he’s a much better player than myself. But I’ve still got to give myself credit for sticking in and trying. That’s all I can do, and I tried until the end.

“Every time I broke off, the main red I never left him once – but it was the other poxy thing, which is ten times harder, and he just kept ramming them in.

“I thought ‘sod it, you don’t pot off the next break’. The last thing I want to do is lose a frame off the break.

“So I just rolled it straight down. That’s the way forward for me – the number of frames you lose these days from your break off is unbelievable. Just roll it into the pack, and it’s never going to happen again.”

Nine-time ranking event winner Murphy led for large periods but was pegged back time and again by the evergreen Williams.

The ‘Magician’ struck early breaks of 93 and 50 but a pair of fluent centuries from the Welshman, coupled with a fourth frame 54, helped level the scores at three frames apiece.

The game got scrappier as it went on and despite a final frame visit of 52 from Williams, Murphy’s 81 in the ninth set him up for victory and he edged over the line.

Williams has endured a difficult couple of years since being crowned Crucible king in 2018 and has admitted to his game plateauing as he reaches the twilight of his career.

His place in the world’s top 16 is hanging by a thread but he’s determined to cling on with this year’s World Championship looming.

Williams added: “We’ve got the Welsh Open then it’s pretty much the Worlds.

“There’s not that many tournaments to go at, but I suppose I’ll see if I can get enough ranking points to keep me in the top 16 for the worlds. That’s probably my next aim.”

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