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Ronnie O'Sullivan beats Mark Williams 10-9!
Top 10 shots of 2021/22: No. 1 – Trump's brilliant positional play seals key victory
He hammered down two gorgeous pots in the decider, and that was the difference, buy biggup and hold-tight both of these, for the best match I've seen this season. What a pair of heroes. Ronnie meets Neil Robertson next - that might be alright.
O'Sullivan 9-9 Williams (47-44)
A poor shot apiece, then Mark goes for one to right corner, strikes it with no authority, and hands Ronnie the table. The yellow won't be easy, a cut-back along the bottom side-cushion ... and he wobbles it down, just. This should be curtains!
O'Sullivan 9-9 Williams (40-43)
There's a massive sight of horror from the crowd when Ronnie misses a cut, cue-ball close to object ball; Mark misses the red to left corner, then Ronnie misses it to right, and this is getting joyously nervy.
O'Sullivan 9-9 Williams (17-43)
But he can't, overrunning off a red and playing safe off the yellow. Ronnie responds with a beauty, a thin-contact special that puts Mark in a bind. He can only try a containing safety, leaves a brutal one to left corner ... and Ronnie hammers it home, then caresses a tough blue to the same pocket! There's work to do, but we have a new favourite for f&m
O'Sullivan 9-9 Williams (4-40)
No he didn't! Mark drops in a long black dead-weight and holds for the black! That is temperament right there. He needs the spider for the next ball ... drains it lovely - and can he turn this into a chance? He just might you know!
O'Sullivan 9-9 Williams (4-25)
While remaining in the moment, let's just not what a whistle-whetter this is for the Cruce; you just can't beat a tight snooker match over a stretch. "In match like this, you absolutely hate to lose it," says Stephen. "It's no consolation to be involved in a match as good as this."
O'Sullivan 9-9 Williams (4-25)
"You just want one chance," etc etc. And the first one goes to Mark, who's played beautifully since the interval. He caresses a longish red to left corner, but overruns looking for a blue into the bunch, tries a difficult brown, misses by miles ... but doesn't break the pack as he planned. A good thing too, he'll be thinking.
O'Sullivan 9-9 Williams
Mark attacks a fine cut, yellow delivered into left corner ... then a green sent long to right corner! What a pot! But looking good, he decelerates through the brown so has to prod home a tight blue .. which he does! What a clearance, what a match, what a pair of boys!
O'Sullivan 9-8 Williams (57-47)
Ronnie escapes, then lays a brutal snooker behind the black, close to the top cushion, the yellow protected by the brown. He misses, and Ronnie opts not to put him back, gets down on the free ball ... and puts him back. Right decision, there are probably more points to be had here ... or not! Mark hits and snookers Ronnie, who escapes but leaves a thin yellow! Miss, and it's staying over the pocket ... so Mark plays safe.
O'Sullivan 9-8 Williams (47-46)
This is only the third frame of the day that's gone beyond 20 minutes, and it's a gripper. There's now one red left ... was one red left. Mark takes it from middle to right corner, then tucks Ronnie in behind the green.
O'Sullivan 9-8 Williams (47-46)
Mark nudges the red off the black ... but sends it just far enough past the middle to be unpottable next shot. Dare he take it on to the yellow pocket? No and rightly so.
O'Sullivan 9-8 Williams (47-39)
Mark smokes a red to the middle and this is a really good chance - though there's red not far form the side cushion and not near a pocket. Ronnie played really nicely up to the end of his break, but he's been poor since.
O'Sullivan 9-8 Williams (47-15)
A poor safety from Ronnie offers Mark a chance, and he sinks a pressure pink to left corner. The reds are reasonable but not ideal - this would be a serious piece of clearance, and give us the decider we so richly deserve.
O'Sullivan 9-8 Williams (47-1)
Close to black cush, Ronnie could take on a long red that, if he sinks it, might mean the match ... but instead he plays safe, leaving a long one ... that Mark blasts to left corner! He winds up on nowt, then botches his safety shot.
O'Sullivan 9-8 Williams (47-0)
Ronnie's played much better today than he did winning the World Grand Prix, but - if he closes out here - the question will be whether he can do so again. But as I type that, he runs out of position, so plays a quality safety, snuggling the white up against the bottom cushion. It's a handy lead, no more than that.
O'Sullivan 9-8 Williams (18-0)
Oooh yeah! Left one from the break and knowing the red won't get back down the table, Ronnie goes all-in on a red to left corner, creaming it into the leather. "He can sniff the winning line," says Stephen, and he should know. Quickly, Ronnie liberates the black, and already, Mark will be fearing the worst.
O'Sullivan 9-8 Williams
This is ridiculous stuff. 127 from Ronnie - he misses the black sent long to the green pocket - and he needs one more to set up a semi with Neil Robertson.
O'Sullivan 8-8 Williams (73-0)
Nope, Ronnie has to go down the table for a blue, then a poor split and it might be end of break ... but no, he sinks a nasty cut-back red and this is brilliant stuff, two of the greatest in the groove and going at it. Ronnie is one for his fifth ton, and he's previously done that and lost.
O'Sullivan 8-8 Williams (32-0)
Mark knocks the black towards the pocket and it looks like it might go in but doesn't, then again. That time, he leaves a long red to right corner and Ronnie cracks it into the bag, then despatches the aforementioned big dog. We've seen a fair few one-mistake frames today, and this might just be another. That's four red-blacks...
O'Sullivan 8-8 Williams
A 41 from Mark and we're back level. Best of three it is!
O'Sullivan 8-7 Williams (1-73)
I said mirth earlier; well mirth, meet mirth! Ronnie doesn't want to play, because someone in the audience - he says - has, er, added to the atmosphere. He's foul-missing at the time too, handing Mark a further chance at the frame and he takes it with alacrity.
O'Sullivan 8-7 Williams (1-45)
Mark calmly works a handy lead, but he plays a poor shot coming up for blue when he might've played for black and that costs him the table. He also leaves along straight one for Ronnie that's ramrodded home beautifully ... and a decent safety to follow has Mark tapping the table. Shortly afterwards, mirth, when the ref thinks Ronnie is returning the rest but he isn't. This game!
O'Sullivan 8-7 Williams (0-21)
Stephen Hendry is in co-comms and he says he saw Williams between frames,every bit as delighted bv what just happened as you'd expect a champion to be. Hendry also notes, though, that now he's back in the arena, it'll be gone, and I'm sure that's right - there are few competitors as equanimous, a word I probably just made up. Shonuff, though, he sinks a good red and takes a difficult brown to keep the break going - he knows he's playing well, and this time he splits the pack and works his way onto the black.
O'Sullivan 8-7 Williams
Another ton, obviously - I didn't quite hear the final call so not sure what it was exactly - but the fact of it will do. Ronnie goes one up with four to play.
O'Sullivan 7-7 Williams (70-24)
At the start of this break, Ronnie wasn't as tight with the white as he usually is, but his potting was there for him, and he's hitting it beautifully now. A few minutes ago, Mark looked to be stretching away, now he's behind again, and I've not a clue what's going to happen next.
O'Sullivan 7-7 Williams (43-24)
There's no one you'd want to face least having opened the balls. John Higgins is the best frame-thief, but we're talking 50s and 60s, not the more significant score it'll take to win this frame.
O'Sullivan 7-7 Williams (13-24)
THIS GAME! Mark spanks into the pack off the blue, the split is lovely ...ands the pink drops into right corner! Absolute sickener! That too might be a turning point, because Mark had taken charge for the first time.
O'Sullivan 7-7 Williams (0-23)
Mark is feeling himself! He lamps in a trademark long red then, after his next, deploys the old under the body one-armer to nudge a pink tight to middle. He's readying the afterburners.
O'Sullivan 7-7 Williams
Who could've predicted this? Er, everyone - the players in this competition are all brilliant and there's not loads between them, never mind these two who've been rivals for decades. Best of five to win.
O'Sullivan 7-6 Williams (1-57)
But he can't close it out, clipping a red en route to the black such that he's out of position and clipping himself on the thigh as punishment. To rub it in, Ronnie then flukes a red - he looks extremely peaky at that - but gets no position and can't find a telling safety. Next shot, a double kiss puts Mark back at the table, and I'm sure he'll close out from here.
O'Sullivan 7-6 Williams (0-35)
We're not. Mark plays a terrific red to left corner and two more good shots fashion him a chance. He's not won two straight all day but he's in position to test that now, coming in strong in the way he so often does. He's a monster of mentality and a master of snooker.
O'Sullivan 7-6 Williams (0-0)
A tactical start to frame 14, then Ronnie catches one thin, leaves a red to left corner, and Mark misses. There are a fair few reds scattered about the right side of the table, so I don't think we'll be playing safe for long.
O'Sullivan 7-6 Williams
If Mark wins here that little exchange and clearance will be a lot of the reason why. This is shaping up to be a classic; it's already pretty good.
O'Sullivan 7-5 Williams (41-61)
The last red, though, is close to black cush, and when Mark gets straight on the pink, he makes it difficult for himself - especially given pockets renowned for their miserliness. But he drains it beautifully, also plays a lovely shot from yellow to green, and this is brilliant stuff.
O'Sullivan 7-5 Williams (41-33)
Mark soon runs out of position and has to play safe, but misses his snooker behind the yellow; no matter, because under pressure, Ronnie can't get a red safe, leaving it over the middle. Mark sinks it, gets position on the black, and now three of four reds are in play. This would be a colossal clearance.
O'Sullivan 7-5 Williams (41-23)
Off the black, Ronnie tries to release a red stuck to the blue, nudges the latter ... but not hard enough. He plays safe, Mark attempts to force a plant - red into pink into red - misses - and though he rearranges the table, he doesn't leave anything, so Ronnie deploys another good safety. He's winning those exchanges at the moment, which is why he's ahead in this frame. But as I type that, Mark feathers a fine one to left corner; what can he make of it?
O'Sullivan 7-5 Williams (34-17)
Ronnie flukes a snooker tight to the yellow and close to the bottom cushion - and there's a red over right corner. Trouble for Mark, though the other remaining reds are unhelpfully located. Mark misses, is put back in, misses again, and this time Ronnie takes over.
O'Sullivan 7-5 Williams (24-17)
And it proves impossible, so Ronnie goes safe off the green and another safety exchange begins. This might be a scrappy one.
O'Sullivan 7-5 Williams (20-17)
If Ronnie wins this one it'll be hard to see a way back for Mark, and an oblique cut to left-middle has him back in the balls. The black, though, is marooned in the middle of the top cushion while blue and pink are stuck to reds, so it'll take something to craft a decent break from here.
O'Sullivan 7-5 Williams (10-17)
A safety exchange begins frame 13, punctured by mark sinking a long red to left corner. You may have seen him do so before, over the last 25 years. But a flick off the blue means he's to send a red a long way and at quire an angle to the yellow pocket ... it looks good ... but misses, just! Ronnie drops it in, knucks a nasty brown to middle, and works his way up the table. There are a couple of reds available to right corner, but when he comes too far, he takes a while to decide whether he can get to his preferred ball without feathering the black; he decides that he can and pots it, but the ref calls a foul and we're back playing safety.
O'Sullivan 7-5 Williams
A break of 75 restores Ronnie's advantage, and it'll take something special from Mark to win five before Ronnie wins three. But Mark is something special, so. See you in 15.
O'Sullivan 6-5 Williams (45-0)
Ronnie glides about the table, opening reds off the blue, and this looks a lot like the frame. He'll take it if it is, splitting the mini-sesh to preserve the lead he started the evening with, but two frames closer to the wining post.
O'Sullivan 6-5 Williams (16-0)
Ronnie quickly gets in and this is such a him situation, balls not obviously available but a few nudges and knocks away from being nice.
O'Sullivan 6-5 Williams
Nothing much happens, the white gets lodged in the pack, the boys struggle to lands a tip on it, and it's a re-rack.
O'Sullivan 6-5 Williams
A lovely run of 79 and the gap is back down to one. This is an absolute treat.
O'Sullivan 6-4 Williams (40-89)
Both men know that if they miss, chances are they're getting punished, and the longer the match goes, the more the tension will ramp up.
O'Sullivan 6-4 Williams (40-30)
Not for long! Trying to send a red long to the yellow pocket, Ronnie gets up off the shot quickly because he knows he's missed it, and from looking poised to win the frame, he'll now do well to get another shot in it.
O'Sullivan 6-4 Williams (32-13)
Mark is so good from range, and he slams a starter diagonally into right corner, but my computer then crashes and I miss what happens next, but Ronnie's at the table and looking good.
O'Sullivan 6-4 Williams
A run of 100, and the two-frame lead is back.
O'Sullivan 5-4 Williams (80-1)
Can Ronnie make his third ton of the day? This has been a terrific break, the clever way he opened up the balls, making tricky pots look routine. There's no one better at navigating a table and turning potential into points.
O'Sullivan 5-4 Williams (48-1)
If this is Ronnie's standard for the night, Mark has a problem. But it only takes one poor shot, loss of concentration or kick to hand over the table, so we'd be silly to get previous.
O'Sullivan 5-4 Williams (20-1)
Ronnie sinks a red to right corner, hauling the white back through the narrowest of gaps - the best Angles has seen him cue in a while, we learn from the commentary, and that's a helluva standard.
O'Sullivan 5-4 Williams (8-1)
Mark sinks a fine opener to right corner, winds up in the pack, and misses his safety off the green ... but leaves nothing. After some safety, he then takes on a speculative clip to right corner, the red way nearer the top cushion than he'd like, misses, and leaves a much easier one for Ronnie into the same pocket. Down it goes, and off he goes.
O'Sullivan 5-4 Williams
I'm not sure whether we should sit back or buckle up, maybe both. A run of 103 and Mark is back within one.
O'Sullivan 5-3 Williams (0-71)
Yup, there are none calmer in the balls than Mark, and he quickly secures the frame; a black to left corner, and Ronnie needs snookers.
O'Sullivan 5-3 Williams (0-35)
An error from Ronnie lets Mark in with an easy start to left corner, exactly what he needed. Immediately, it looks a frame-winning opportunity.
Baizing by the boyz
Let's have it.
How will it go?
Mark didn't play especially well this afternoon, but Ronnie and he both know that he's more than good enough to come back tonight. If Ronnie's not at it, he'll lose, but if he plays pretty well - especially early doors - he'll win.
This should be alright!
O'Sullivan 5-3 Williams (0-0)
Rocket Ronnie enjoying runs of 56, 84, 131, 128 and 89 to establish a two-frame lead. Willo staying in touch with contributions of 58, 52 and 92. All on the line before tonight's concluding session.
O'Sullivan 5-3 Williams (0-0)
No third century of the afternoon for O'Sullivan, but a superb break of 89 will make him feel the happier before the second session. That was vintage play. They resume at 7.30pm with first man to 10 frames progressing to the semi-finals.
O'Sullivan 4-3 Williams (81-0)
Fabulous break-building by O'Sullivan. Is going to lead 5-3 heading for the second session tonight.
O'Sullivan 4-3 Williams (31-0)
Pot to a blind pocket by O'Sullivan finds the mark. Such a fine pot under the circumstances. All sorts of pressure, but kept his cool. O'Sullivan battling hard to keep this break going.
O'Sullivan 4-3 Williams (8-0)
Another audacious plant by O'Sullivan, but position on next red from black goes all wrong. He is frustrated by that mistake. Not like him today especially.
O'Sullivan 4-2 Williams (50-92)
Quite majestic from Williams. A clearance of 92 from the Welshman is enough to mount a rousing recovery. Back to 4-3 behind inspired by that brilliant long red to get the party started. One more frame before the end of the first session.
O'Sullivan 4-2 Williams (50-51)
Could be a winning counter attack and really should be. Nothing safe. Break moves to 51.
O'Sullivan 4-2 Williams (50-7)
Sublime long red by Williams presents chance of counter attack from 'The Welsh Potting Machine'. Big visit coming up in context of this match.
O'Sullivan 4-2 Williams (50-0)
Lead moves to 50 points as Williams fails to connect with a red, but gets there second time. 16 points handed over in fouls so far.
O'Sullivan 4-2 Williams (46-0)
Williams trying to run safe off the red against top cushion. Misses it and gets another go here. Misses it a second time and gets a third attempt. Must hit red this time otherwise he loses the frame. Hits the red, but sees the white disappear down a hole. O'Sullivan happy to continue trading blows in safety.
O'Sullivan 4-2 Williams (34-0)
Another terrific four-ball plant by O'Sullivan is followed by a tough green that is made to look easy. Some fine pots, but not in control of the cue ball. Just the safety with a lead of 34 points.
O'Sullivan 4-2 Williams (17-0)
Off we go then with the final two frames of the first session. Williams will be aiming to win at least one of them. But O'Sullivan picks out a plant on reds with tough black to follow to regain access to the table. Rocket first to the punch in this seventh frame, but runs out of position potting blue. He is not a happy man with that error.
O'Sullivan 3-2 Williams (128-14)
A sublime break of 128 from O'Sullivan, his second century of the match. White ball on a piece of a string as he concludes by ramming home all the colours. Looking so comfortable this afternoon. He moves 4-2 to the good.
O'Sullivan 3-2 Williams (48-14)
This already looks ominous for Williams. O'Sullivan looks fully focused on the job at hand. Could be another sizable break coming up.
O'Sullivan 3-2 Williams (15-14)
Safety blunder by Williams attempting to run safe off the pack of reds. Didn't get ideal position on red from black in previous shot, but has compounded his frustration with the blunder. Chance for O'Sullivan to get his cue arm working.
O'Sullivan 3-1 Williams (0-115)
52 to go with the earlier 58 and he is back to within one frame of the Essex player trailing 3-2. Finely poised on the scoreboard.
O'Sullivan 3-1 Williams (0-85)
A break of 58 from Williams looks like it might be a frame winner. O'Sullivan snookered behind pink, but the hit and hope sees yellow drop down pocket. And he has stuck the game up for the three-time world champion. Back to 3-2 behind.
O'Sullivan 3-1 Williams (0-22)
Williams with an early chance to beat his highest break so far of 39 in the fifth frame. Plenty of reds to go at after O'Sullivan could not punish a miss on black with the rest.
O'Sullivan 3-1 Williams (0-0)
O'Sullivan 2-1 Williams (131-0)
A break of 131 from O'Sullivan. Fantastic exhibition of ball striking. He moves 3-1 clear at the interval. Four more frames to play in this opening session.
O'Sullivan 2-1 Williams (104-0)
Could be the highest break of the tournament coming up. 131 possible.
O'Sullivan 2-1 Williams (63-0)
Williams forced to sit down and suffer after an early error. O'Sullivan with chance to get motoring in the third frame. Races to 68 with little fuss and could be a century coming up for a 3-1 lead.
O'Sullivan 1-1 Williams (91-14)
84 from O'Sullivan sees him move 2-1 ahead. One more frame before the mid-session interval. This match starting to warm up nicely.
O'Sullivan 1-1 Williams (76-7)
A brilliant recovery red to yellow bag finds the range for the Rocket. Starting to find his form.
O'Sullivan 1-1 Williams (59-7)
Looks for all the world like O'Sullivan is going to win this frame with one big hit. Reds at his mercy.
O'Sullivan 1-1 Williams (30-7)
Another cracking pot on a red by Williams to green pocket. Made it look so easy down the table, but the white then ends up going down a middle hole from the cut on black. O'Sullivan with a fabulous long red to get moving again.
O'Sullivan 0-1 Williams (76-23)
Chance of a steal for Williams as O'Sullivan misses frame ball red, but the Welshman needs a black off final red to win by one point. Can't cue home the black to the green pocket down the cushion and it is going to be 1-1 as O'Sullivan polishes off the colours up to the black.
O'Sullivan 0-1 Williams (56-8)
A surprising error by O'Sullivan. Rolls in 56, but then rattles the jaws with the black. Doesn't leave a red for Williams so at least gets second prize.
O'Sullivan 0-1 Williams (27-7)
O'Sullivan at the business end of the table after Williams failed to cash in. Rocket quickly moves to 27 and this is a real chance to put some points together.
O'Sullivan 0-1 Williams (0-7)
Off we go then for the second frame. Williams picks out a delightful long red early on. Seeing the balls clearly so far from distance before he misses cut on a blue to centre.
O'Sullivan 0-0 Williams (51-79)
O'Sullivan gets one back on the blue before Williams rolls in the blue. The first frame finally over after around 30 minutes. Tense start to the day. Williams leads 1-0.
O'Sullivan 0-0 Williams (46-74)
Williams is going to win this first frame after O'Sullivan misses the yellow and leaves a free ball. O'Sullivan returns to table chasing three snookers, but surely too much work with four balls left up.
O'Sullivan 0-0 Williams (39-66)
Williams breaks the brief deadlock with a rasping long red, but fails to do likewise with the final red. Williams then punishes an O'Sullivan safety error to take out red and brown in moving 27 points clear with 27 left up.
O'Sullivan 0-0 Williams (39-55)
This is quite a tense opening frame. Could fall either way. Two reds left up and we are involved in a bit of tactical joust to sort it out.
O'Sullivan 0-0 Williams (31-42)
Williams nudging himself ahead after O'Sullivan misses escape from a snooker and leaves a free ball. The Welshman knocking in some fabulous balls to stay at the table.
O'Sullivan 0-0 Williams (31-4)
Break concludes on 31 as a tricky cut on a red to a centre pocket just eludes O'Sullivan. Williams presented with his first scoring chance of the day, but just the safety after rolling in red and green.
O'Sullivan 0-0 Williams (20-0)
O'Sullivan powers home a long red with some purpose and has fashioned first chance of the day in the opening frame. Looking to make a trademark fast start.
O'Sullivan 0-0 Williams (0-0)
Williams has completed only one win over O'Sullivan in the past 21 years with that coming courtesy of a 6-5 victory in the last eight of the 2014 International Championship in China. O'Sullivan breaks off in the first frame of a possible 19. How close will this contest go? Should be quite a battle.
Welcome back to Wales
What a day of snooker this should be.
Ronnie O'Sullivan is facing home favourite Mark Williams in a quarter-final battle between two of the all-time greats and genuine entertainers of the sport.
It should be an enthralling match at the Venue Cymru in Llandudno – and you can follow it with us through the day and evening via our live updates with the winner meeting Neil Robertson in Friday's first semi-final.
Monday, March 28
- Zhao Xintong  9-10 John Higgins 
Tuesday, March 29
- Neil Robertson  10-6 Mark Allen 
Wednesday, March 30
- Ronnie O'Sullivan  v Mark Williams 
Thursday, March 31
- Judd Trump  v Luca Brecel 
'A real battle' - Watch moment Trump closes out victory over Robertson at Welsh Open
'Absolutely brutal' – Robertson 'proud' to hold off Allen comeback
Neil Robertson finished with two centuries to close out a nervy 10-6 win against an obstinate Mark Allen in the Tour Championship quarter-finals on Tuesday evening, having earlier led 7-0 in Llandudno.
The defending champion rolled in superb knocks of 125, 103, 125, 121, 130, 76, 94 and 68, but was made to sweat with fellow Masters winner Allen winning six out of seven frames to trail 8-6 despite making high breaks of only 66 and 70.
Robertson – who is chasing a fourth major title of the season after lifting the English Open, Masters and Players Championship – will next face Ronnie O'Sullivan or Mark Williams on Friday as he continues his quest for back-to-back titles at the elite eight-man event.
“I’m very proud, because Mark asked a lot of questions tonight," said the World No 4, who described himself as one of the all-time snooker greats earlier this month.
"I had many answers – he just kind of had answers for my answers. His safety was incredible and shut me out.
“I was trying to be aggressive with safeties and long potting whenever I could, but it felt like I hardly even attempted a long ball tonight.
“I couldn’t really get the balls open in a good way. He was playing a lot of thin safeties where he was snookering me a lot behind the baulk colours."
“The fact that I was asked a lot of questions and came up with the goods when it really mattered, that sends a lot of positive signals to me that I can withstand anything," said Robertson speaking to World Snooker Tour media.
“I can put my foot down and run away with a match and I can also respond to when someone is coming back strong as well.
"This is one of the tournaments when, as soon as all the players start the season, they’re desperate to get into it.
“Only the top eight in the world on the one-year list, so even if you have a great season you still may not even get in it.
"It’s absolutely brutal. All the players here are in brilliant form as well, it’s a fantastic field again this year and I’m going to have to play really well to win."
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Top 10 shots of 2021/22: No. 2 – O'Sullivan sinks outrageous red during Crucible epic
Top 10 shots of 2021/22: No. 3 – Williams creates Crucible magic with thrilling yellow
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