Mark Williams Advances to 40th Career Ranking Final in Cazoo British Open

In the semi-finals of the Cazoo British Open in Cheltenham, Mark Williams secured a spot in the 40th ranking final of his illustrious career by defeating Iran’s Hossein Vafaei 6-3.

This Welsh snooker champion, a two-time British Open winner in 1997 and 2021 by triumphing over Stephen Hendry and Gary Wilson in their respective matches, will now contend against either Mark Selby or Xiao Guodong in the final, which will be a best-of-19 frames event. A significant prize of £100,000 and the prestigious Stephen Hendry Trophy will be at stake.

Today’s outcome signifies Vafaei’s third loss to Williams in ranking semi-finals, having previously been defeated in the 2017 China Open and the 2019 China Championship. Despite his skillful victory in the 2022 Shoot Out, overcoming Williams in the final, he remains in pursuit of a second ranking title.

The match commenced with Williams clinching the first two frames. However, Vafaei staged a comeback to level the score at 2-2. Williams then gained the lead in the fifth frame, and a tense sixth frame lasting 41 minutes saw the 24-time ranking event winner secure a 4-2 advantage.

Vafaei responded impressively with a break of 135 to narrow the gap. Both players faced pressure, resulting in unexpected missed shots. Ultimately, Williams capitalized on breaks of 62 and 71 to secure victory and book his place in the final on Sunday.

Reflecting on the game, the 48-year-old Williams expressed his struggle to maintain composure under pressure, particularly when the score was 4-3. In contrast, Vafaei was shocked by the game’s unpredictability and his own surprising missed shots. Despite this, he remains optimistic, acknowledging the ups and downs of snooker and expressing gratitude to the fans for their support.

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