Williams edges Belfast thriller

27 November 2017 20:19:30 GMTPlus11

Mark Williams hopes he can triumph in 20 ranking events after beating Yan Bingtao 9-8 in a thrilling Northern Ireland Open final.

The 42-year-old Welshman's victory in Belfast was his 19th ranking title and the first since he won the German Masters six years ago.

The two-time world champion, who was never ahead in the final until after the last frame, is now fifth in the all-time list of ranking titles won, six ahead of Mark Selby and Ding Junhui.

It was not easy for Williams against the 17-year-old Chinese star though as Yan led 5-3 heading into Sunday's evening session. Yan won the ninth frame as well, only for Williams to triumph in the next three to make it 6-6.

Yan appeared to have the initiative when he moved 8-7 ahead but Williams responded by compiling a run of 49 in the 16th frame and then made breaks of 34 and 28 in the decider.

Williams said afterwards: "Everything I threw at Yan, he was just potting long ones for fun and making breaks. You have to realise that he is only a 17-year-old. That is unbelievable. If he keeps improving like that he is going to be winning many titles.

"I said to myself a while ago if I could get to 20 ranking titles I would be over the moon. You never know now. I just need one more.

"My only aim for the season was qualifying for the Masters. I've done that now and my next one is to try and qualify for the Crucible."

Williams is 1212/1 to win the UK Championship, while Ronnie O'Sullivan can be backed at 1/3 to triumph in York, Selby at 1212/1 and Ding at 1212/1.

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