Exclusive: Hendry believes Williams is a top contender at the upcoming Crucible

“He’s different to anyone I’ve ever met. You couldn’t teach what he has, he’s unique.”

Snooker player Stephen Hendry in a snooker match
Shane MacDermott

Written by: Shane MacDermott

(Sports Writer )

Fact checked by: Louis Hobbs

(Senior Sports Writer)

Last updated: 2024-04-12

3 minutes read

Stephen Hendry reckons Mark Williams is a genuine contender at the upcoming World Championship.

The Welsh Potting Machine, 49, thrashed the best three players in the world - Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, and Mark Allen - en route to an impressive 26th-ranking title at last week’s Tour Championship.

Three-time world champion Williams inflicted world no.1 O’Sullivan’s first ranking final defeat in over two years to deny the Rocket a sixth title of the season on the eve of the Crucible. 

Bookmakers believe that O'Sullivan is the massive favourite to bring home the crown, but Hendry disagrees with the top snooker betting sites, stating that Williams is a genuine contender.

In contention for World Championship after a dominant performance

And Williams now heads to Sheffield with a great chance to win a first world title for six years.

Even more amazingly, Williams landed back in the UK the day before his first-round match against Tom Ford after playing in the HeyBall World Masters Chinese pool competition.

“I said a couple of months ago that Mark might be a dark horse,” said seven-time world champion Hendry.

“Then his form dipped and then you wonder about his age and whether he’ll be winning again.

“But he’s got a chance at the Crucible now. He beat Judd 10-4, 9-0 up against Mark Allen, 10-5 against Ronnie. He’s destroyed the best three players in the world.

Image Credit: Eurosport

Image Credit: Eurosport

“He broke Ronnie’s spirit, in the final frame he just wanted to get out of there in that last frame.

“No one’s got a temperament like him. If you could bottle what he has temperament-wise, in any sport, you could sell it for a fortune. 

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He’s different to anyone I’ve ever met. You couldn’t teach what he has, he’s unique.

“I just think the way he plays, he’s so aggressive. He goes for everything. 

 

"If there’s a pot on, more often than not Mark’s going to go for it.

 

It’s a risky game, but when he’s that confident and getting them he’s hard to beat.

 

“My career maybe could have been extended by another ten years if I could be like Mark. He just goes through life without a care about what happens. It’s absolutely incredible.

 

“When he gets on the table he’s a fierce competitor, you can see it on his face, believe me.

 

“I was starting to think ‘who’s going to beat Ronnie?’ Because he was just rolling over people, especially in finals."

Staying humble and playing it smart

Williams came through the junior ranks with fellow Class of ’92 greats O’Sullivan and John Higgins.

He constantly says he should not be compared to the prolific potting pair, who he rates as the greatest players ever.

But former world No.1 Hendry added: “Mark’s so self-deprecating. He says Class of ’92, he always says he doesn’t count himself with John and Ronnie, ‘I’m not in the same league as them.’”

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That’s total nonsense. He’s as good as anyone when he’s playing well.

“Ronnie played poorly, but I think Mark got to him. Ronnie couldn’t compete with all parts of the game.

“Ronnie’s used to bullying people on the table. In the safety department, scoring, everything. But the shoe was on the other foot.

“He’s so clever with his safety, always so clever with his safety.

“The beauty about Mark Williams is he walks around the table at that pace and it’s as if he’s not doing anything special, but it’s always special, the touch, everything. It’s incredible.”

For the latest news and more exclusive interviews in the world of snooker, make sure to stay connected to Sportsboom.com. 

Shane MacDermott

Shane MacDermott

Shane is a respected journalist who has covered a range of sports for a number of years.

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