Williams wins title in Beijing
[SNOOKER] Welshman Mark Williams survived a tense deciding frame to claim a 9-8 victory over John Higgins in the final of the China Open in Beijing on Sunday.
Williams, in his first major final since beating Higgins to win the 2003 LG Cup, returned home £30,000 richer and with the 16th ranking event title of his professional career in the locker.
Defeat for Scotland's Higgins was his second in the four finals he has played in this season and was the second in succession in the deciding frame following a 9-8 loss to Ken Doherty in the Malta Cup last month.
But Williams, never more than a frame ahead or behind throughout the final, moved up to seventh on the provisional world rankings, while the No 1 position next season will be decided at the world championship with Stephen Hendry and Higgins leading the charge.
Williams, who had beaten the holder Ding Junhui 6-2 in the semi-finals, recorded top breaks of 66, 60 and 56. The highest came from Higgins, a 74, 66 and 54.
"I should have held the lead at the interval instead of going in at 4-4 as I was in control in most of the frames. Obviously most of my game is good, but as for the No 1 spot on the rankings, this is all about who plays the best at Sheffield," he said.
The Scot's last chance of lifting the trophy disappeared when he missed a difficult green into the top right hand pocket.
"I thought I had got it just right but the ball stayed out and Mark cleared to the pink to win. We were both throwing ourselves at everything in the decider. Really Mark should have won 9-7 and would have done but for having a horrendous kick on a black."
Williams, who started the season poorly and had been in danger of losing his top 16 ranking, said: "I had doubted whether I could ever win a ranking event again so this has to be one of my best victories, particularly as I have beaten the best player in the world on current form.
"I thought at one stage I was on the slippery slope down. I didn't know how to stop it but somehow I managed to.
"So now with Sheffield the next stop, I'm playing much better snooker. Two months ago I didn't fancy beating anyone at the Crucible, while now I have a chance of winning some matches.
"As for that kick against John, I thought I had blown it and that my chance had gone. But it was still a good green I potted which led to me winning."