MARK Williams’ 14-year wait for a ranking title on UK soil is finally over after beating Yan Bingtao in a final-frame thriller in the Dafabet Northern Ireland Open.

The Cwm potter prevailed 9-8 in Belfast in a game captivating from start to finish, winning his first title since the 2011 German Masters in a week which saw his wife, Jo, in and out of hospital.

He was to lead only once but it was in the 17th and final frame where his advantage finally came, holding his nerve to prevent his 17-year-old opponent becoming the youngest ranking event winner of all time.

Yan would have eclipsed Ronnie O’Sullivan’s 25-year best but gave it everything he had in the Waterfront Hall, making four half-centuries and a 137 in his maiden final.

But the experience showed through for Williams, winning his 19th major tournament in a final of high drama and exceptional quality from first pot to last.

“It feels unbelievable, I’ve been stuck on 18 for so many years now – I said to myself a while ago that if I could get to 20 I’d be over the moon so there’s just one more,” he said.

“Up until six or eight months ago I didn’t think another title would come, there’ve been a couple of times where I’ve changed everything but thankfully people have kept faith in me and it’s nice for everyone involved.

“I’ve had a lot of things going through my mind even before the final with Jo, I knew I was one phone call from potentially going home, but thankfully I didn’t have to do that.

“I gave her the tournament director’s number and said whatever the score, whatever the situation, if there’s a problem for her to call and I’d have gone and made the decision.

“I’ll go back in the morning and go straight back to hospital to find out what the problem is.”

It’s no secret that Yan is destined for big things, already the youngest man to reach a final as one of China’s hottest talents.

And he came oh-so-close to the win, leading 6-3 at one stage thanks to his century, only for Williams to wrestle back to 6-6.

But neither play threw the game away as the excellent snooker continued, the prowess of the Cwm cueman’s 42 years eventually shining through to take the win – even if it was a close-run thing.

“The first eight frames were probably the worst I’ve played all season, so to get out of it 5-3 down was a bit of a result,” he said.

“My bottle showed a little bit towards the end, I didn’t tense up at all and neither did he, he didn’t miss much but I just had the better safety.

“I really fancied it but he kept powering on, I just managed to scrape the last frame. The snookers he had me in in the last frame you hit three times out of ten and I hit three of them in one go.

“But everything I threw at him he threw back, he made long pots for fun and he responded to everything and this guy is 17, one frame away from breaking Ronnie’s record.

“I celebrated a little early, twitched the black on 70 and I could just picture my friends calling me names, saying I'd thrown it away.”

Watch the Northern Ireland Open LIVE on Eurosport, Eurosport Player and Quest with Colin Murray and daily studio analysis with Neal Foulds