Mark Williams beats John Higgins 18-16 in World Snooker Championship final before stripping naked

Last Updated May 08 2018, 07:54Snooker
Mark Williams won his third world title at the Crucible
Mark Williams won his third world title at the Crucible

Mark Williams withstood an incredible fightback from John Higgins to land his third Betfred World Championship title - and then stripped off in celebration.

The Welshman became the oldest winner at the Crucible for 40 years and came good on his promise to hold his press conference naked - although he wore a towel to protect his modesty.

Williams, who triumphs 15 years after his second title here, was roared into the media room and said: "Cold in here, isn't it!"

Higgins had battled back from 14-7 behind to level at 15-15, feasting on mistakes from his opponent, putting the Scot seemingly on the march to glory and Williams in turmoil.

Back came Williams, and a century break to go one frame away from victory suggested his nerves had settled.

But at the moment when he stood on the very brink of victory, Williams twitched, missing a pink that was match ball. Higgins had not expected another chance but came back to the table and cleared up with a 65 break, vintage snooker from the four-time champion.

Williams needed another chance and gave himself one early in the next frame. This time Williams made no mistake, a break of 69 leaving Higgins needing three snookers. This time Higgins was beaten, but he had played his part in one of the greatest Crucible finals.

Ray Reardon was 45 when he won in 1978, and his fellow Welshman Williams is the oldest man to get to grips with the trophy since.

Williams, previously champion in 2000 and 2003, lost to Grimsby's Stuart Carrington in the final round of qualifying last year.

He spent the time he would have been in Sheffield "away in my caravan, getting drunk and watching it on TV", even missing the tournament's 40th anniversary celebrations for which he was the only absent living winner.

Now he has his sport's most coveted trophy again.

And despite describing the Crucible theatre as a "s**t hole" just six years ago and suggesting the World Championship should move to China, Williams was plainly thrilled to be king of snooker's most famous arena once again.

He led 10-7 overnight and soon stretched that to 14-7, Higgins potting just 31 points over the four frames.

At that stage the Welshman had a slim chance of winning with a session to spare, but Higgins had other ideas and won three of the afternoon's remaining four frames to narrow his arrears to 15-10.

Higgins first won the title 20 years ago, and he dearly wanted to move level with Ronnie O'Sullivan, who has remained stuck on five Crucible triumphs since 2013.

He started his evening's work with a 131 break, his fourth century of the match, swept in a 67 clearance in the next frame and then an 82 to close to 15-13. The 42-year-old from Wishaw swept through the next two frames too, and incredibly he was level.

Williams, who as a teenager was a keen amateur boxer, looked stricken but bounced back off the ropes, stopping the rot by nudging back in front and then firing a break of exactly 100 to move one away from victory.

Huge twists were still to come but Williams got the job done.

He said afterwards: "It's unbelievable. Twelve months ago I wasn't even here. I watched it in a caravan. To play John in a final is an experience in itself. I'm over the moon."

Williams thanked wife Joanne for convincing him to keep playing when he contemplated quitting last year.

And after saying earlier in the tournament that he would go naked to his press conference if he won the title, Williams walked into his press conference undressed apart from a towel.

Mark Williams in his post-win press conference
Mark Williams: World champion and a man of his word

Related links

Most Read

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte and Willian1

Willian's Conte dig

Willian appeared to fire a major dig towards under-pressure boss Antonio Conte, hours after Chelsea's FA Cup triumph.

Blue Point leads Projection2

Monday's racing preview

Anita Chambers is backing Projection for Listed success at Windsor - she's got a tip for every race at every meeting on Monday.

Bosmans 2018: Some of the players available on free transfers this summer3

Summer transfer window free agents

George Pitts takes a look at the pick of the free agents available for Premier League clubs to sign in the summer transfer window.

Jamie Vardy4

Sunday's Paper Talk

We round up the latest news and gossip from Sunday's back pages, including Jamie Vardy being linked with a move to sunny Spain.

Gustav Klimt5

Klimt set for second classic chance

Gustav Klimt is set to feature in a three-pronged challenge by Aidan O'Brien on the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

Most Read

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte and Willian1

Willian's Conte dig

Willian appeared to fire a major dig towards under-pressure boss Antonio Conte, hours after Chelsea's FA Cup triumph.

Blue Point leads Projection2

Monday's racing preview

Anita Chambers is backing Projection for Listed success at Windsor - she's got a tip for every race at every meeting on Monday.

Bosmans 2018: Some of the players available on free transfers this summer3

Summer transfer window free agents

George Pitts takes a look at the pick of the free agents available for Premier League clubs to sign in the summer transfer window.

Jamie Vardy4

Sunday's Paper Talk

We round up the latest news and gossip from Sunday's back pages, including Jamie Vardy being linked with a move to sunny Spain.

Gustav Klimt5

Klimt set for second classic chance

Gustav Klimt is set to feature in a three-pronged challenge by Aidan O'Brien on the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

Racing Tips

Blue Point leads Projection

Monday's racing preview

Anita Chambers is backing Projection for Listed success at Windsor - she's got a tip for every race at every meeting on Monday.

Check out our horse racing nap of the day

Sporting Life: Daily Nap

Matt Brocklebank selects the Sporting Life Daily Nap on Monday, which runs on the evening card at Windsor.

Get your bets on!

Our best bets

Check out all of our available betting tips and previews of the forthcoming sporting action.

Next Race Off
21:10 Monmouth Park
1
(1)
Three To Thirteen
J: Paco Lopez
4
(4)
Casino King
J: Trevor McCarthy

Football Tips

Get your bets on!

Our best bets

Check out all of our available betting tips and previews of the forthcoming sporting action.

Leroy Sane is congratulated after scoring for Man City

Sporting Life: Tipping record

A look at how the Sporting Life recommended bets have performed.

Romelu Lukaku: The Manchester United forward celebrates his goal v Spurs in the FA Cup semi-final

FA Cup final betting tips

George Pitts thinks Manchester United will win the FA Cup for the second time in three years when they come up against Chelsea at Wembley.