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Williams thoughts with ill wife as he lands NI Open title

 

By Ross Lawson

Mark Williams won the Northern Ireland Open in Belfast despite his ill wife being taken to hospital.

The Welshman edged the final 9-8 against Yan Bingtao 77-28 as an early break of 42 in the final frame eventually proved decisive after his 17-year-old opponent could not make the most of his chance.

"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," Williams said.

His win ended 14-year wait for a ranking title on UK soil in a game captivating from start to finish, as Williams took his first title since the 2011 German Masters

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 record 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.

"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.

"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."

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

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