MARK Williams is adamant he will have no better chance of winning a ranking tournament after reaching the Dafabet Northern Ireland Open quarter-finals last night, writes Ross Lawson.

The Cwm cueman eased past David Gilbert 4-2 in Belfast to take his place in the last eight, now just three wins away from a first major crown since 2011.

That will present plenty of challenges in itself but, after a day where title hopefuls fell like dominoes, Williams is now the highest-ranked player left in the draw at world number 16.

He’ll play Mike Dunn for a place in the last four this afternoon, admitting that half an eye is already on what Sunday could hold in the Waterfront Hall.

“Everyone will be looking in and if you’re not thinking this is your best chance to win a ranking tournament then there is something wrong with you,” he said.

“People will be looking at the top players all being out and this is the best chance for anyone, including myself, to win – no disrespect to those left but there are no big names left in.

“There will be a lot of twitching going on over the next couple of days because people know what’s at stake.

“I missed an absolute sitter to go 3-1 up on 52, he’s cleared up to go to 2-2 and that could have been a crucial turning point for me but I managed to make three good breaks after that.

“That’s what I was doing 20 years ago, forgetting these bad shots and just getting on with it.

“If I win it, great, but if not I’m not really too bothered either way, I’m enjoying competing and I’m playing much better.

“I now feel I can make breaks, but for two or three years I wasn’t really doing that. If a tournament win comes out of it then great, if not I’ll keep plugging away.”

Bizarrely Williams has never come out on top against Dunn despite the pair spanning a combined 50 years together on the tour, with the Englishman’s slow style causing plenty of problems already this week.

But four half-century breaks in his last-16 match showed the Welshman to be in good touch, recovering from a 2-1 deficit against Gilbert.

You can watch the Northern Ireland Open live on Eurosport, Eurosport Player and Quest with daily studio analysis from Neal Foulds.