Mark Williams joins Ronnie O’Sullivan in World Championship semi-finals after epic Crucible victory

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Williams, 47, edged Yan Bingtao 13-11 in a thrilling Crucible battle to reach the iconic one-table set-up for the first time since his third world title win in 201
Williams, 47, edged Yan Bingtao 13-11 in a thrilling Crucible battle to reach the iconic one-table set-up for the first time since his third world title win in 201

By Ben Parsons at the Crucible

Mark Williams cannot believe he is still competing with snooker’s elite after becoming the oldest World Championship semi-finalist since 1985.

Williams, 47, edged Yan Bingtao 13-11 in a thrilling Crucible battle to reach the iconic one-table set-up for the first time since his third world title win in 2018.

Chinese star Bingtao impressively fought back from a 6-2 first session deficit and looked unflappable as he took leads of 10-8 and 11-10.

But Williams is seldom fazed and the evergreen Welshman pounced on some rare errors from the former Masters champion to win the final three frames, including composed breaks of 66 and 78.

He is now the oldest player since countryman Ray Reardon to reach the last four at the Sheffield showpiece.

“I can’t believe I’m still competing with the big boys and getting to the semi-finals at my age," Williams said.

“It’s unbelievable. I'm just loving every minute and enjoying it and playing some really good stuff.

“To make the two breaks at the end under extreme pressure, I’m over the moon.

“I deserved that one, a lot of matches like that this year have gone the other way."

Williams joins fellow ‘Class of 92’ legend Ronnie O’Sullivan in the semi-finals, 30 years since the duo graduated as professionals alongside four-time world champion John Higgins.

O'Sullivan cruised through his quarter-final match with a dominant 13-5 victory over Scotland's Stephen Maguire.

Williams is guaranteed to face a former champion in either Judd Trump or Stuart Bingham on Thursday, while O'Sullivan takes on old rival Higgins or Jack Lisowski.

Both players remain on course to become the oldest world champion in snooker’s modern era.

But while Williams has displayed some of the best form in the tournament, seven-time ‘Crucible King’ Stephen Hendry does not think O’Sullivan can be stopped.

The Rocket is bidding to match Hendry’s magnificent seven world crowns, and the Scot insists it would be an ‘honour’ to share his prestigious record with his fellow great.

“I am struggling to see anyone who can compete with Ronnie because he is supreme in all departments,” Hendry said.

"He looks focused, he is scoring when he gets in. It will take something to beat him.

"It would be an honour for me to share seven titles with him because he has taken it to a new level."

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