Exclusive: Mark Williams claims O’Sullivan remains the man to beat, recollects almost retiring in 2017

From almost being gone from the scene, to lifting trophies. Sportsboom chats with Mark Williams following his dub at the Tour Championship.

Shane MacDermott

Last Updated: 2024-04-09

Louis Hobbs

4 minutes read

Snooker player Mark Williams holding a championship trophy

Mark Williams defeats “The Rocket” at Tour Championship final

Mark Williams believes Ronnie O’Sullivan is still the man to stop at the upcoming snooker World Championship despite beating him in the Tour Championship final.

The three-time world champion downed the Rocket 10-5 in their first ranking showpiece for 24 years in Manchester on Sunday night.

Image Credits: Eurosport

Image Credits: Eurosport

Welsh Potting Machine Williams, 49, denied the world No.1 a sixth title of the season as he landed a 26th ranking crown of his own in fine style.

But O’Sullivan is still the bookies’ favourite to clinch a record eighth Crucible crown when the sport returns to its spiritual Sheffield home (April 20-May 6).

An aim in sight and remaining the favourite

The Rocket is bidding to break Stephen Hendry's longstanding record of seven world titles as well as complete the Triple Crown of the game's majors in the same season for the first time in his illustrious career.

“Ronnie’s still the favourite 100 percent,” stressed new world no.6 Williams.

“He’s the man to beat without a doubt.

“There’s no question he wants to break Stephen Hendry’s record and get to eight, there’s no question about that.

“He’s the favourite to do it. He doesn’t have to play his top game or his B game as long as he can keep himself together he’s the one everyone’s got to beat.

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He’s the greatest player that’s ever lived. He played like God for four frames in the middle of the match.

"If he played in every event then he would be world number one by a mile. He's still number one playing only half the events."

Image Credits: Sporting Life

Image Credits: Sporting Life

From being on the edge of retirement to World Championship glory

Williams rolled back the years with a vintage display to secure his second trophy of the season.

He beat the top three players in the world - O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, and Mark Allen - to seal a special success in front of wife Jo and sons; Connor, Kian, and Joel.

The left-hander amazingly flirted with retirement in 2017 but after a pep talk from his wife won the 2018 World Championship and seven other ranking crowns since.

“You don’t normally win major tournaments when you’re touching 50,” added Williams. 

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To still be doing it and competing with the best players in the world it’s unbelievable really.

"I'm really proud of how I played the whole week really.

“It’s crazy when you look back and I was considering retiring. I have my wife to thank for that because she basically stopped me retiring.

“Since I made my mind up all those years ago it’s never come back into my head.

“Even when I’m losing it or not playing well it’s never got back into my head.

“I’m working with Lee Walker who’s the best coach in the world and I’ll never retire. I’ll always still be playing.

“I’ve got a chance of winning the worlds again, but I don’t know.

“If I keep playing the way I’m playing then I’ll be giving it my best shot.”

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Shane MacDermott
Shane MacDermott Sports Writer

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