Snooker: Williams winning spree ended

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The Independent Online
MARK WILLIAMS' attempt to become the first player since Stephen Hendry in 1993 to defend his Benson and Hedges Masters title successfully ended yesterday.

He lost 6-4 to Alan McManus in the opening quarter-final, a loss that ended Williams' 16-match unbeaten record that had brought him the Irish and Welsh Open titles plus a team victory with Wales in the Nations Cup.

McManus, who has lost his last three games with Williams, including the second whitewash of his career at last month's Welsh Open, seemed assured of a place in the semi-finals as he potted his way to a 5-1 lead. Williams then showed plenty of spirit to win the next three frames.

In frame nine, McManus saw victory snatched away from him after building up a 58-13 lead. Unfortunately for him, he missed what would have been a match-clinching red and Williams knocked in a third consecutive half- century break to take the frame.

What proved to be the final frame was the longest of the match and ebbed and flowed before McManus delicately cut in the final pink and then added the black for his triumph.

Williams had no complaints after losing his title. "Alan played better than me on the day and deserved to beat me," he said. "But I tried my guts out when I was 5-1 down. It's pointless lying down like a big baby."

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