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Veteran Williams threatens to bare all if he reaches world final

Two-time champion Mark Williams has promised to appear naked before the world’s media if he reaches this year’s World Snooker Championship final. AFP
Two-time champion Mark Williams has promised to appear naked before the world’s media if he reaches this year’s World Snooker Championship final. AFP

Veteran Williams threatens to bare all if he reaches world final

Veteran two-time world snooker champion Mark Williams vowed if he reaches this year’s final to appear naked before the world’s media.

The 43-year-old – champion in 2000 and 2003 – made the pledge after seeing off journeyman Englishman Robert Milkins 13-7 in their second round clash.

Williams plays Ali Carter – conqueror of five-time champion ‘Rocket’ Ronnie O’Sullivan in the second round – in what is the Welshman’s eighth quarterfinal at the championships at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

“I would come in here naked and do the press conference,” said Williams, bidding to reach his first world championship semifinal since 2011.

Williams was in a jocular mood, remarking he would do his best not to earn a slap from Carter, who was involved in a heated exchange with O’Sullivan during their second round match.

“I might have to walk sideways back to my chair a couple of times in case he gives me a dig, but apart from that I’ll be fine,” joked Williams.

Williams said he could scarcely believe he had reached the last eight only a year after he considered calling time on his career such was his lack of form – the nadir when he failed to reach the 2017 world championships.

“Excellent.How many more times am I going to get to the quarterfinals? Not many,” said Williams.

“I am going to enjoy it more than the others. At my age one has to cherish these moments and drive for getting to the semifinal.”

‘Best shape for years’

Williams, who won the Northern Irish Open and German Masters this season, said there were not many sports where 40-somethings like him and four-time world champion John Higgins would still be in contention for the title.

“Unbelievable both of us turned pro in 1992 or something like that,” he said.

“It is incredible we are still playing at the top level, well he has always been at that level while I have slumped and come back two or three times.

“There are not too many sports you get to the latter stages of a world championship 25 years on.

“I feel I am in the best shape for years – OK maybe I played better 20 years ago but I am not far away from those performances.”

Williams said the fact he and Higgins are the only two to have won the title before could be decisive now that nerves might start jangling among the likes of Chinese favourite Ding Junhui.

“Just three more matches to go for two of us,” he said.

“Eight men left all thinking they have a great chance to win it.

“Only me and John Higgins have won it and that might be the telling thing.”

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