Mark Williams fights back to beat David Gilbert in World Open final

Mark Williams
Mark Williams

World champion Mark Williams staged a stirring comeback to win the World Open in China on Sunday.

David Gilbert looked set for his maiden ranking title as he led 9-5 but Williams' never-say-die attitude saw him fight back to take the title with a 10-9 victory.

It was a sorry end for Gilbert, who had played some solid snooker up until the moment he moved to within touching distance of a famous win.

For Williams, who was crowned world champion for the third time in May 15 years after his previous success, it was the 22nd ranking title of his career at the end of a week of fightbacks.

The win sees the Welshman leapfrog Ronnie O'Sullivan to claim second place in the world rankings.

"At 9-5 down I was almost out," said Williams. "To win three matches I have looked like losing is unbelievable. I never give up or let my head drop, no matter what the score is. I never let my opponent see that I’m losing heart, and then sometimes it does turn around. Whatever is going on, you have to stick in there.

"I feel for David, he didn’t have that many clear cut chances. I played really well from there and put him under pressure. I won it more than he lost it. It’s a good shout to say my all round game is as good if not better than it ever has been. Perhaps my long potting is not as good as it used to be, but my all round game is probably better now and the results are showing that at the moment.

"When I get home I’ll be straight to the caravan park then I have to decide whether to have a drink to celebrate the World Championship win or a drink to celebrate this one. Or I might just double up and do both."

Trailing 5-4 after the first session, Williams had the first chance in the opening frame and made 58 before missing a black to the top corner. Gilbert cleared superbly with 68 then compiled a break of 95 in the next to lead 7-4.

In frame 12, Williams was again in first, but missed the black to a corner pocket at 38-0. Gilbert was ruthless, clearing with 95 once more to go four frames ahead. The Englishman had another frame-winning chance in the 13th but this time could only make 15 before missing a red to a centre pocket, and Williams made 54 to claw back to 8-5 at the interval.

Williams led 27-19 in frame 14 when he missed a risky long red, and Gilbert took full advantage with a break of 84 to go four up with five to play as the outcome of the game began to feel inevitable.

But then, in the 15th, Gilbert led 39-4 when he missed a red to a corner pocket, and a run of 76 from Williams got him back to 9-6, before taking the next with a run of 41 to close to within two.

Gilbert had a chance to clear from 55-1 down in the 17th and got as far as the final blue before missing a tough pot to a baulk corner. He later played a weak safety and Williams potted the blue for 9-8, and minutes later it was 9-9, Williams making a break of 72 to draw level.

Gilbert had the first clear chance in the decider but missed a red to a corner pocket at 18-1 and Williams, calling upon all of his experience, made 64 to take control. When he potted the penultimate red, the title was sealed.

Defeat for Gilbert means he misses out on next month’s invitational Shanghai Masters, with Anthony McGill clinging on to 16th place in the rankings.

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