Snooker results: Mark Williams wins a thriller to set up China Championship final with Shaun Murphy

Mark Williams
Mark Williams

Mark Williams reached his 35th ranking final after holding off a battling comeback from Hossein Vafaei to triumph 6-5 at the Evergrande China Championship.

The Welshman - a winner of 22 ranking titles including three world championship crowns - will now meet Shaun Murphy, who triumphed 6-3 over Mark Selby.

It's also Williams' first final since the 2018 Yushan World Open when he came from 9-5 down to stun David Gilbert 10-9.

Vafaei, meanwhile, may have missed out on his first ranking final but he can take heart from another semi-final run having also reached the last four at the 2017 China Open and the 2019 Welsh Open.

Williams cruised into 3-0 and 4-1 leads before Vafaei kept himself within touching distance with a superb break of 134 only for his opponent to restore the three-frame cushion.

Vafaei then won three frames in a row to force a dramatic decider, which Williams edged thanks to an incredible cut back red to the top right to set up a break of 91.

The 44-year-old said: "He was looking stronger towards the end. I pulled out a fantastic red. I thought I had to go for it. I could have played that shot another 20 times and not got it. I am glad to get over the line.

“Apart from four frames on the bounce against David Gilbert I have been playing my C game. I have just been sticking in there. I haven’t had a century break since I have been here. I’ll have to play better to win the final. Even if I lose the final who cares, I am amazed I am still here."

Later in the day, Murphy moved through to his third successive ranking final with an impressive 6-3 victory over defending champion Selby.

The Magician has enjoyed a supreme start to his 2019/20 campaign but has been runner-up in the previous two events - to Judd Trump at the International Championship and Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Shanghai Masters.

Defending champion Selby will leave Guangzhou disappointed at missing out on his first title since victory here last year. However, he will pocket £32,000 for his second semi-final appearance of the season, following a run to the last four at the International Championship.

Murphy surged into a 3-0 advantage, making a break of 96 along the way before Selby forced himself into contention with back-to-back century runs of 101 and 100.

The next two frames were shared before the 2005 world champion claimed the eighth and then made a break of 88 sealed to seal his spot in the final.

Murphy said: "I am delighted to be in another final. As you get older you get a bit of perspective. Things have come fairly easy to me during my career. I won the Triple Crown and other tournaments. Off the back of the worst season of my life last year I value things a lot more now.

"I’m really looking forward to the final. Any time you play those greats like Williams, O’Sullivan and Higgins it is a special moment. For it to be in a final it is doubly special. It would mean everything to win tomorrow. It is what all the hours of practice are for. It is to take those trophies home to your family."

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