Mark Williams faces manic schedule after last minute Hong Kong Masters call-up

October 6, 2022
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Phil Haigh ✍️  


Betfred World Snooker Championships 2022 - Day 11
Mark Williams is making an unexpected trip to Hong Kong (Picture: Getty Images)

Mark Williams is making a 6,000 mile dash to play in the Hong Kong Masters on Friday after a last minute call-up to play in the event.

Zhao Xintong was due to face Neil Robertson in the eight-player tournament this week, but after testing negative for Covid in the UK, the Chinese star tested positive on a PCR test after arriving in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Masters is the first World Snooker Tour event in Asia since 2019 and Covid precautions are still pretty extensive, certainly compared to the return to normality we have experienced in the UK.

Zhao was forced out of the event and Williams got the call, tested negative at home and is flying to Hong Kong on Thursday to play Robertson on Friday.

The three-time world champion has been keeping fans updated on his progress on Twitter, heading to the airport early on Thursday for a 13-hour flight.

With the time difference from the UK to Hong Kong, it is a tight turnaround for the Welshman, who says he is set to land at 10am local time before playing at 1.30pm.

Williams will still have to test negative for Covid again before playing, then try and take down Robertson who has been in Hong Kong for days and should be considerably better prepared for their contest.

The late invite was not one to turn down for Williams, though, with prize money of £22,500 even for losing quarter-finalists. If he can pull off some wins against the odds then it is £35,000 for losing semi-finalists, £45,000 for the runner-up and the champion pockets £100,000.

It will also be a remarkable experience as the competition is being held at the Hong Kong Coliseum, an arena which can hold around 12,000 for certain events and up to 9,000 people are expected to attend Sunday’s final.

This will obliterate the current record crowd for a snooker match, which was set at this tournament in 2017 when 3,000 people attended the last edition of the Hong Kong Masters.

It is good news for Williams but very disappointing for Zhao who was excited to play in one of the biggest matches of his career in the spectacular tournament.

Zhao’s practice base in Sheffield, Victoria’s Academy, posted a picture of the UK champion on Tuesday with the 25-year-old looking thrilled to be in Hong Kong and a caption reading: ‘Zhao Xintong has safely arrived in Hong Kong. He is looking forward to playing in the Hong Kong Masters this week.’

The tournament began on Thursday afternoon in Hong Kong (6.30am UK time) with Marco Fu playing Mark Selby in the first quarter-final.

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This post appeared first on Snooker – Metro.

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