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'Count me out of UK Champs contention,' says Williams

Sportsbeat
·3-min read
Mark Williams has won the UK Championship on two previous occasions - in 1999 and 2002
Mark Williams has won the UK Championship on two previous occasions - in 1999 and 2002

Three-time world champion Mark Williams ruled himself out of contention for the UK Championship trophy, despite emphatically seeing off tour rookie Ben Hancorn in the first round.

The 45-year-old - who has 22 ranking event titles to his name - went into the first Triple Crown event of the season off the back of a surprise second-round exit to Dominic Dale at the Northern Ireland Open.

But a meeting with world No.119 Hancorn presented no such problems, as Williams demonstrated his class with a 6-0 scoreline, notching his only half-century in the penultimate frame.

Despite the dominant showing however, the two-time UK Championship winner knows he will face much sterner tests than a player competing in the tournament for the first time, and he doesn’t expect to be challenging for the title.

“I doubt very much I’ll be up there again towards the end, but I’m not looking for that,” the world No.14 said. “I’m looking to bring some of my practice form into the matches, try to play well and enjoy it, and if I can do that I can be a match for anyone.

“It wasn’t a great performance, but it’s all about getting through the first round. The first frame was massive because he should’ve won it, and I don’t think he really settled from there.

“I’m very happy with my game at the moment. I’m playing well in practice, I’m not bringing it to the match table as yet, but I have in patches. I’m just missing the half-chances that can make all the difference in frames.

“I’ve been playing for two to three hours every day. I think that’s enough for me - I can’t practice for much more than that at my age - I’ve found a good balance and I think my game’s in good shape.”

Having re-captured his love for snooker earlier this year Williams is relishing every minute of the 2020/21 season, with the UK Championship having been moved to Milton Keynes because of Covid-19.

And although he admits the Marshall Arena doesn’t compare to the competition’s normal home of the Barbican in York, Williams is suitably impressed with the work behind the scenes to ensure gameplay can continue.

He added: “It’s not going to be anything like it is in York - there are always great crowds up there. It’s not easy playing behind closed doors when you’re used to big crowds, but what World Snooker and Barry Hearn have done is unbelievable, really.

“Just to get a tournament on is fantastic for every player. Everyone should be bending over backwards, thanking them for getting it on.”

Watch the UK Championship LIVE on Eurosport and Eurosport app. Follow all the latest tournament news on Eurosport.co.uk