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Mark Williams vs. John Higgins
Snooker: 2011 Betfred.com World Snooker Championship Sheffield
Thursday 28 April 2011 - Kickoff 20:00

The second semi final of the World Championship promises to be an absolute classic and I’m so glad we’re getting this over 4 sessions of snooker. It’s a repeat of the UK Championship final from earlier in the season as John Higgins takes on Mark Williams, the current top 2 in the world in the provisional rankings. Higgins won that UK final 10-9 after needing a snooker in one of the frames after trailing 9-6. This is Williams’ first chance for revenge.

Mark Williams has cruised into this semi final yet I don’t believe we’ve seen him play his best snooker yet. He’s only lost 14 frames in total in the tournament having come past Ryan Day, Jamie Cope and Mark Allen in emphatic style. One thing we know about Williams is when he plays to his best he’s a tough nut for anyone to crack and that includes Higgins.

John Higgins has had things a lot tougher. He had an excellent win over Stephen Lee but was frustrated massively by Rory McLeod in the second round before winning a classic against Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter final. Higgins showed all his fighting grit in that match coming back from 8-5 down to win 13-10 against Ronnie who did very little wrong in the match.

It’s going to need a braver man than myself to call the winner of this match. I simply can’t. These are two champion players who have enjoyed stellar seasons to this point. We know they are both playing well and everything leads towards a tight classic, similar to their UK final. I love the 2nd semi final at the Crucible because it concludes amidst high tension and drama on Saturday night and I just can’t see this one not being close. One will punch, the other will counter and so on and so on. I can’t wait but in terms of a bet I’ll play the safe route and take over 29.5 frames here. I can’t see this being won any worse than 17-13 either way...

Mark Williams vs. Mark Allen
Snooker: 2011 Betfred.com World Snooker Championship Sheffield
Tuesday 26 April 2011 - Kickoff 11:00


The second quarter final in the World Championship, which also begins on Tuesday morning, sees many people’s pick for the title in Mark Williams taking on the fighting scrapper of Mark Allen in what looks like a corking match for a quarter final. Both men have shown good stuff in the tournament so far but it’s fair to say they’ve reached this stage in different ways.

Mark Williams cruises past Jamie Cope to reach quarter-finals of World Snooker Championship 2011

Welshman Mark Williams became the first man to reach the quarter-final stage of the World Snooker Championship 2011 after beating Englishman Jamie Cope with a massive lead of nine frames at 13-4.

The Welsh Potting Machine, Williams, hit some extraordinary shots to build outstanding breaks during the match.

The world number two Williams completely unsettled his opponent from Staffordshire in the first session. He took a quick 4-0 lead in the match after pocketing a couple of superb clearances of 51 and 72 in the second and third frames respectively.

Cope moved within three frames down with 4-1 after he clinched his first frame of the match at 49-64 followed by the Welsh cueman’s three consecutive frame wins with 69-10, 61-37 and 87-0 firing a fine half century break of 54 in the sixth frame to extend his lead to 7-1 at the end of the first session.

The 25-year-old Cope started the second session with a sensational near-century break of 96 to take the ninth frame in one visit. After that, Williams sparked his cue brilliantly and grabbed five consecutive frames after smashing some terrific knocks of 53, 61, 106 and 109 to move within an 11-frame lead at 12-1.

However, Cope fought back and took back-to-back frames at 22-71 and 7-72 with two stunning clearances of 71 and 72 but the damage was already done by the Welshman Mark Williams. The 36-year-old Williams needed only one frame to ensure his second-round victory and a quarter-final spot which he took in the very first frame of the third session with 64-37.

Williams has reached the quarter-final stage for the first time since 2006 and is eager to clinch his third world title. He is quite happy with his form so far but not overexcited.

Mark Allen ousts Barry Hawkins in a final frame thriller – World Snooker Championship 2011

The Pistol, Mark Allen, has beaten Barry Hawkins by a frame score of 13-12, in the best-of-25 second round match of the 2011 Betfred.com World Snooker Championship, held at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield.

It was yet another brilliant performance from Mark Allen, as he once again fought back superbly from 3-7 behind, to go in front. Hawkins was unfortunate to hit the blue ball off the break, in the final deciding break.

The overall score-line between both players was 52-71, 72-56, 1-71, 70-57, 64-69, 62-35, 0-77, 6-64, 23-61, 54-58, 59-49, 77-34, 80-0, 114-10, 119-7, 78-38, 68-22, 13-75, 51-63, 129-0, 97-0, 1-80, 7-117, 0-93 and 96-0.

The twenty-five-year-old was trailing his opponent 3-7 before he bounced back into the game. Hawkins then forced the decider, after he was left down by three frames with four to play at 12-9. Despite the odds, Hawkins clawed back and won all the three frames to level the match at 12-12.

In the final frame, however, Hawkins was unlucky, as he ran off into the blue off his break. It was probably his worst break off ever and he was punished for it, as Allen fired up a mind-boggling break of 96 to finish the match in style. He attempted a 147, but unfortunately rattled a long red around the jaws of the green pocket.

The World Number eleven, Allen, after the victory said, “I've never been so happy to see someone hit a blue off the break and give me a chance, because in a deciding frame that's all you're wanting. Luckily I knocked the red in and made a good break.”

Hawkins, on the same note was disappointed over his performance and said, “It was a horrible way to go out. I gave Mark a chance and he made a great break.”

Mark Allen has now set up a potential clash with Mark Williams in the quarter-final of the championship. The match is sure to be an interesting one, as both players will be looking to capitalise on the momentum they have gained from their past matches.

Despite suffering from a bit of a iffy stomach, Mark Williams has made it to this stage very smoothly. He beat Ryan Day 10-5 and then walloped a very poor Jamie Cope 13-4 in the second round. One thing I’ve noticed with Williams is he’s missed a few pots when he’s been in the balls. Illness had something to do with that I’m sure as could the ease and comfort of his matches but it’s something he may need to improve on here.

All the talk and interest in Mark Allen in the tournament so far has centred around his depression rather than his snooker. Having looked lost, disinterested and beaten against Matthew Stevens he somehow lit a spark at 9-6 down to win 10-9. Then at 7-3 down to Barry Hawkins he played flawless snooker for 6 frames before repelling a late charge from Hawkins to win another deciding frame. This time he nearly produced a 147 in that decider breaking down on 96.

I find this an interesting match to call. Silky smooth Williams against the gritty, hard fighting but battling himself and the table Mark Allen. However if Mark Allen can put his depression behind him and find some inspiration from somewhere in this match, be it from adversity or even his daughter Lauren who was so clearly an inspiration in the Ulsterman’s win over Stevens, then I think he can compete with Williams here. Sometimes having a battle or two helps the further into this we go. We know Allen’s got the talent to win this and in a quarter final I really can’t wait for I’m going to take him to upset the Welsh potting machine.