Mark Williams fires Ronnie O’Sullivan warning ahead of Masters clash

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Mark Williams believes he is finally due a victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan as the legendary pair gear up for a blockbuster quarter-final showdown at the Masters. The Welshman overcame David Gilbert and an uninvited wasp at Alexandra Palace to set up an unmissable clash against his fellow Class of 92 founder O’Sullivan on Thursday afternoon.

The Welshman’s first round match against late replacement Gilbert descended into chaos as he was forced to dance around a menacing wasp to avoid a sting in the eighth and final frame before sealing victory.

Williams produced some of the finest snooker seen at Ally Pally this week as he fired glorious breaks of 126, 127 and 95 and held off a resilient fightback from the ‘Angry Farmer’ to win 6-2. O’Sullivan, meanwhile, breezed into the last eight, blitzing world no.10 Luca Brecel 6-1 in an ominous start to his own Masters campaign.

And the duo, regular sparring partners in their three decades among snooker’s elite, will go head-to-head once again in what could be a memorable quarter-final battle.

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Williams, a two-time Masters champion, will be hoping to get a prized victory over the game’s greatest player, who he has a surprisingly poor record against. He only has eight wins in 41 career matches against the Rocket and lost 10-9 in a thrilling Tour Championship quarter-final last year.

But while the relaxed 47-year-old admits there is a realistic possibility he could be whitewashed by O’Sullivan, he fancies his chances of finally getting one over the world champion in front of a 2,000-strong raucous Ally Pally crowd.

“It is going to be brilliant,” Williams said. “It can’t beat the atmosphere when me and (John) Higgins played here last year, but it can be as good. We’ll get a brilliant reception. Obviously, they’ll all want him to win, but I’m due to beat him. I’m playing well enough to beat him.

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“Look, I could turn up and lose 6-0 in an hour-and-a-half, no problem. He could play out of his skin, but it is just nice to know I’m playing okay myself and let’s see what happens.”

O’Sullivan, meanwhile, is also in a confident mood after dismantling Brecel in his first round match on Monday. The world No 1 is still the man to beat in snooker and warned his rivals that he is ‘not going anywhere’ as he targets his eighth Masters crown.

“I’m enjoying every moment,” he said after thrashing Brecel. “I might say I don’t care but actually there is a very good competitor there. I’ll never lose that so the players can keep expecting me to come back for more. I’m not going anywhere yet.”

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