Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

World Snooker Championship: Williams sees off Allen's challenge

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - APRIL 27: Mark Allen of Northern Ireland looks dejected as Mark Williams of Wales looks on during their quarter-final match on day twelve of the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible on April 27, 2011 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Mark Williams reached his first Crucible semi-final since the year he won his second world title as he finished off Mark Allen's challenge this morning.

The 36-year-old Welshman triumphed at the World Championship in 2000 and 2003 but has struggled for results in Sheffield in the years since, reaching just one quarter-final in seven years prior to his current run.

He led Northern Ireland cueman Allen 11-5 overnight and soon added the two frames he required, to win 13-5 and set up a last-four clash with John Higgins or Ronnie O'Sullivan.

Allen left a red hanging over a pocket for Williams in the opening frame of the day, which proved costly as a 61 break followed.

When Allen missed a sitter of a red at 39-17 ahead in the next, Williams was in to fire a match-clinching clearance of 65.

Williams is relishing the prospect of another semi-final. Tonight sees a table removed from the Crucible floor, leaving just one for the rest of the tournament as the crunch matches take centre stage.

"It's been a long time, eight years. It'll be nice," Williams said.

"Once it goes down to one table it's totally different . You've got loads of room and that's when it becomes a real venue. I haven't been there for so long, I'm looking forward to it."

Williams and Allen both agreed the outcome of the opening session had been key to the outcome of their clash.

"How I managed to be 5-3 up I'll never know," Williams said.

"He was knocking in 50s and 60s for fun really, and I kept clearing up and nicking them.

"It probably hurt him a little bit early on and I dominated the match from thereon."

Allen could not recover from that setback, and admitted he was still learning how to negotiate such important matches.

"I played probably the best snooker I've played in the tournament and managed to somehow throw three frames away. I made 59, 60 and 66 and lost all three frames," 25-year-old Allen said.

"I should have been 6-2 in front but somehow I came out 5-3 down.

"But that's what Mark does best. He knows how to win and he knows how to get the most out of a session which is something I'm still learning to do.

"From then on it was a bit of a struggle to hang on to his coattail and he showed what a class player he was by pulling away so easily."

On the other table this morning, China's Ding Junhui moved from 5-3 in front of Leicester potter Mark Selby to a 7-4 lead.

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