MARK WILLIAMS claimed what he described as one of his “biggest wins for ages” after knocking world No1 Neil Robertson out of the BetVictor Welsh Open.
The 38-year-old from Cwm held his nerve to seal a 4-3 victory over December’s UK Championship winner and reach the last 16 at the Newport Centre.
Home favourite Williams’ success delighted a packed crowd – and he later revealed it came after good friend and snooker legend Stephen Hendry advised him to call time on his career.
Williams, a two-time Welsh Open winner but not since 1999 and down to No18 in the world, is battling to avoid having to qualify for the World Championships in April.
But he claimed a morale-boosting win over Robertson to reach the last 16 after the now-retired Hendry joked he should pack it in. Williams now plays Marco Fu for a place in the last eight.
After delighting the crowd Williams said: “I spoke to Stephen just the other day. I had a good chat, told him a couple of things and he had some advice.
“He said ‘There’s only one thing for you to do, it is six letters, begins in R, ends in E’, so you can work out what he meant.
“I still think I have ranking titles in me, the last one was three years ago but I know I have to work.
“The most frustrating thing is when you look good, get in a rhythm, make 50-odd then miss a sitter and punch the table. I did it today, my hand is still sore.
“It was an excellent win for me, one of the best I have had for a long time. Neil is world No1 for a reason, he was different class out there for long periods.
“But I held myself together. He looked like a Rolls Royce in the balls, I was like an Austin Metro but I pulled off a good clearance to win.
“It is a step towards getting in to the top 16 before the cut-off for the World Championship seedings and not having to qualify.
I have played the last 17 years at the Crucible, and you would be sick if you lost a qualifier. All the hard work all year would be wiped out.
“There are around five of us scrapping for a couple of places and it will be tight. But I can’t think about winning this yet, I am only in the last 16 and still going.”
Former Welsh Open winner Ali Carter beat Mark Allen 4-2 to set up a tie with Mark Selby, but there were no flashpoints this time.
After Carter won their Champion of Champions clash last year the Northern Irishman suggested he had been guilty of poor sportsmanship by moving behind his line of vision in the infamous ‘squeaky chair’ incident, allegations quickly dismissed by the 2013 German Masters winner.
Joe Perry beat Matthew Stevens 4-3, while Ricky Walden saw off Anthony Hamilton 4-2.