Mark Williams says he’ll never retire from snooker after keeping his hopes of a fourth World Championship title alive, writes Will Jennings.
The three-time king of the Crucible eased past the evergreen Alan McManus 10-5 on Saturday after winning all six of the frames in the session, having trailed 5-4 overnight against the world No.53.
World No.3 Williams has been there and done it all and reckons he’s got nothing to prove - so will continue to pot balls for as long as he can.
“Lockdown has made my mind up that I’ll never, ever retire from snooker,” the 45-year-old, who reigned supreme in Sheffield in 2018, said.
“I’ll play until I drop off the tour and I’m never retiring - I’m just going to play now, and I’d be interested to see where I am in five years’ time, whether or not I’m up in the rankings, off the tour or down the bottom.
“I’m going to be practicing and it will be interesting to see what happens - after the 2018 win I’ve got nothing to prove to anyone and if there were any doubters out there, then they can’t really doubt that anymore.
“I’m just going to enjoy however far I get - if I win some more tournaments, brilliant, and if I don’t, it’s not going to be for a lack of trying.
“Through lockdown, I had months without even looking at my cue and I started to miss it and fancied playing.
“I just wanted to practice even though we didn’t know what was going to happen, and I was actually looking forward to getting my cue out.
“I practiced hard for the last two months and from now on, for the rest of my career, I’m going to practice as hard as I can and see where it takes me.”
22-time ranking event winner Williams took to social media on Friday night to vent his frustration at going 5-4 down, having hit breaks of 70, 68 and 60 but going into Saturday’s second session behind.
Fair play , I was out safety— MARK WILLIAMS M.B.E (@markwil147) July 31, 2020
Out played in every department . Scrapped a 5 4 deficit . Could easy be 7-2 down #crucible
But he sparkled once again under the glittering Crucible lights to emphatically turn the tables and book his place in the last 16.
The world champion of 2000, 2003 and 2018 composed fine breaks of 50, 79 and 59 to keep his hopes of a fourth crowning glory alive and tee up a tantalising clash with world No.14 Stuart Bingham.
The 2015 world champion may be ranked 11 places below Williams but the Welsh potter reckons that could work in Bingham's favour in the behind closed doors format.
“I think it may give the lower ranked players a bit of an advantage because the crowd can really get the atmosphere going and put the atmosphere on you,” he added.
“They’re not there, and when you miss an easy shot they’re normal ‘ooing and aaring’ and pressure builds, but there’s not going to be anything like that year so it’s going to be different.”
Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship from 31st July – 16th August with analysis from Jimmy White.