What Ronnie O'Sullivan told Mark Williams after Tour Championship instant classic

March 30, 2022
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Phil Haigh ✍️  

2017 English Open - Day 2
Ronnie O’Sullivan came through an unforgettable clash with Mark Williams in Llandudno (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan hailed Mark Williams’ ‘mental’ long-potting after their epic Tour Championship quarter-final on Wednesday night, but it was the Rocket who triumphed 10-9 in an instant classic.

The stunning contest lasted five hours and 40 minutes, featured five O’Sullivan centuries and an amount of drama that could have been dangerous for some in the Llandudno crowd.

O’Sullivan was ahead for much of the match, but the Welshman refused to go away and stayed in touch all the way to forcing a decider with an incredible dish from a superb long yellow in the 18th frame.

Williams was ahead in the decider, but let the Rocket back in and ultimately fluffed a chance at a red to let O’Sullivan get over the line.

The Class of 92 veterans had a chat after the game and O’Sullivan said he was praising Williams’ long-potting skills, which were on full display over the 19-frame epic.

‘I just said you never missed a long ball all day, it was just ridiculous, it was mental,’ O’Sullivan told ITV of their post-match chat.

‘Neil Robertson can pot long balls but he’d have to go some to pot as many as he did today.

‘If I made a few long balls than maybe it would have been alright. But it’s like trying to win a golf tournament when you can’t hit a fairway. Having to chip out and putt, that’s what I was doing today, just hanging on.’

Betfred World Snooker Championship - Day Five
Mark Williams turned in a superb performance in Llandudno but it wasn’t enough (Picture: Getty Images)

The Rocket was very critical of his own long-potting, and while he may have been outshone by Williams on this occasion, he still nailed 16 out of 27 from distance, so it was hardly disastrous.

‘My scoring was alright, I didn’t think I was going to get a chance in the last, pleased to get a chance and make it a bit close,’ he continued.

‘I couldn’t pot a long ball all match and when you can’t pot a long ball it’s hard to get in against people who are so good, like Mark, they don’t give you easy chances.

‘Every chance I did get I scored, that was the only way I was going to win really. Try and keep it tight and tidy, if I get 10 chances, try and win it in one visit. I just couldn’t pot long balls and it’s hard.

‘I couldn’t pot one and he never missed one all day. Some ridiculous ones as well.’

After the unforgettable contest, which also featured a tournament high break of 131 from O’Sullivan, it is Robertson next for the Englishman.

The Rocket said of another big challenge ahead: ‘Everyone’s beatable. No one’s invincible. It’s just a game of snooker at the end of the day, sticks and balls. Whoever plays better on the day will win.’

Williams won a fairly scrappy opening frame but it was then immense quality from there on in, with both men in supreme form.

O’Sullivan was the better of the two over the afternoon session and secured a 5-3 lead thanks to breaks of 131, 128, 89, 84 and 56.

The Welshman showed that the evening was going to be a great battle as he opened the session with a 103, but Ronnie responded with a 100 of his own.

There was little between them at this stage, if anything it was Williams looking slightly the stronger as he clawed his way back to 7-7 and then 8-8, despite the Rocket making his fourth century of the match in the 15th after an unfortunate foul by Williams as he knocked the pink in when opening the pack.

Williams had not led since that first frame, though, and O’Sullivan just kept kicking on, making his fifth century of the contest (127) to go one from victory at 9-8.

There was more drama in the last two frames than in most entire matches, but Williams scrapped his way to a decider with an immense clearance from the yellow, and then looked like he was going to pinch victory at the death.

Things got very nervy at the end, with Williams having a couple of good chances and then another half-decent one on the final red but hit it poorly to leave Ronnie in to win the game on the final blue.

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