Williams' fightback seals world title

Mark Williams, so weary and unhappy after the first day of the Embassy World Championship final he feared his chance had gone, staged one of the great comebacks last night to become the first Welsh champion since Terry Griffiths in 1979.

At one point he trailed Matthew Stevens 13-7 but when despair and fatigue appeared to be dragging him to a successive defeat at the ultimate hurdle he shook off both to collect 11 out of the next 14 frames. His 18-16 win was the closest since Stephen Hendry defeated Jimmy White in the deciding frame six years ago.

The comeback possibly eclipsed Hendry's in 1992 as his 10 frames in a row from 14-8 was against a White who could barely pot a ball by the conclusion. Last night Williams prevailed despite playing a Matthew Stevens who was close to the top of his game. The 22-year-old made five centuries in the final alone and still ended up losing.

"This means everything," Williams, who wins £240,000, said. "It's what I have been trying to do since I was a little kid. To be world No 1 and world champion is something you dream about. At one stage it looked as though Matthew would run away with it but I hung in there."

Until nerves took a grip on both potting arms the standard of the snooker was almost impossibly high. One mistake and the opponent would charge in with yet another heavy score. The winner was, to paraphrase a former president of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, first among equals.

Williams began the day anxious to emerge from a bout of weariness that had struck him on the first day of the final. He complained of "feeling drained" by his previous labours and warned he would have no chance if the weariness took permanent residence.

Spin back 12 months and the words would have been similar because the 17 days in the Crucible had fatigued him so seriously he crumbled to Hendry on the last day last year. World finalists can run out of power and on Monday night Williams looked in need of a recharge.

When a player is feeling tired the inclination is to go for shots in a rush to get frames over quickly and Stevens had built his lead by tempting Williams with risky pots and clearing up when the damage had been done. The score after the first day had been 10-6 but in tactical terms it was a rout.

The key to Williams' victory lay in yesterday's afternoon session and his refusal to follow what had gone before. Stevens won three of the first four frames but then was rooted to his chair as his opponent won four in succession.

Long-term friends, both players grinned as they shook hands at the end of the session, but it was Williams whose smile was wider and he also inflicted the first wound of the evening. Stevens made a 33 but tripped with a blue into the centre pocket and his opponent took the frame with a 77 break.

That made it five frames in a row and Stevens urgently required something to halt the flow away from him. He found it with a calmly collated 67. Many of the pots had to be manufactured, a time when nerves ought to come into play, but he took his chance like he was on the practice table.

Not that Williams was looking nervy and he pulled the arrears back to one with breaks of 36 and 39. With the mid-session break beckoning he grabbed the grabbed the chance to draw level with a 67.

The match see-sawed from one side of the arena to the other. Stevens scored his fifth century of the match to keep his nose ahead; Williams took the next two to lead for the first time since 4-3; Stevens took a nervy 32nd frame to level the match. Which way it would go was anyone's guess but Williams took the 33rd frame with a break of 56 and crossed the finishing line with visits worth 27 and 32.

"Everything was looking good at 13-7," Stevens said, "but credit to Mark, he played brilliantly."

EMBASSY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield): Final:

M Williams (Wal) bt M Stevens (Wal) 18-16. Frame scores (Stevens first): 62-50, 84-28, 33-56, 103(103 break)-23, 18-65, 61-76, 0-123(123), 75-35, 64-24, 84-37, 59-21, 117(111)-0, 114(114)-7, 6-79, 73-22, 0-68, 133(108 break)-0, 66-48, 0-106(106), 55-54, 0-81, 34-79, 46-71, 37-79, 33-77, 67-0, 6-75, 0-74, 120 (120 break)-16, 13-61, 66-70, 60-29, 8-76, 21-73.

News
Actor Burt Reynolds last year
newsBurt Reynolds, once among the most bankable actors in Hollywood, is set to auction his memorabilia
News
Gordon and Tana Ramsay arrive at the High Court, London
newsTV chef gives evidence against his father-in-law in court case
News
people

Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
films
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Sales Manager

£60k - 80k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game