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Wonderful Mark Williams claims third World Championship title

Mark Williams celebrates with the trophy (credit: PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Mark Williams ended a 15-year wait for a third World Championship title after edging past John Higgins 18-16 in a classic final at The Crucible on Monday.

Williams, who previously claimed the crown in 2000 and 2003, rolled back the years at the age of 43 to become the oldest World Champion since fellow Welshman Ray Reardon back in 1978.

The unflappable left-hander stormed into a 14-7 lead before fending off a sensational fightback from Higgins to 15-15 by winning three of the last four frames for glory.

The victory secures him a record £425,000 winner's cheque and a place in the history books as he joins an elite group of three-time World Champions.

"It's unbelievable," Williams told BBC Sport. "Twelve months ago I wasn't even here - I watched it in a caravan.

"I was seriously thinking of giving up but my wife Joanne said I can't sleep in the house 24 hours a day.

"Just to play John in the final was an experience in itself. 

"I just can't believe it, I'm over the moon."

One for the family album (Photo by Linnea Rheborg/Getty Images)
Williams had opened up a 10-7 lead at the halfway stage following Sunday's first two sessions, producing high breaks of 119, 59, 127, and 117 to the Scot's 95, 72, 118 and 64.

He then began Monday's session in ruthless fashion, taking the opening four frames without reply to storm clear, making breaks of 61, 56, 69 and 52 along the way.

Higgins responded superbly with a 67 break to stop the rot, and when Williams broke down on 65, the Wishaw ace cleared with 72 to trail 14-9.

He then followed up with a break of 80 to apply further pressure, before Williams steaided the ship by securing the final frame of the afternoon session.

Higgins appeared rejuvenated when the players re-emerged in the evening and got off to a flying start with a total clearance of 131.

A 58 break in the following frame proved insufficient for Williams as the four-time World Champion produced another of his trademark clearances - this time a 67 to gather further momentum.

An 82 break followed for the Scot as he closed the gap to just 15-13 behind before dominating the next frame and producing a break of 62 to level the final.

Williams regained his composure and edged back in front by taking frame 31 to nil before moving to the verge of victory courtesy of a flawless century.

An incredible moment of drama then saw Williams break down on 63, missing a frame ball pink to the corner pocket, allowing a nerveless Higgins to make a majestic 65 clearance, hailed by many as one of the greatest ever, to stay alive.

A fired-up Williams, though, made no mistake at the second time of asking as he clinched the crown with a break of 69, prompting emotional scenes with his family in the arena.

Higgins, who lost out in a second successive world final, admitted: "Today I was 14-7 behind and I was worried if I would take it to the fourth session.

"I didn't want to lose with a session to spare.

"It was a good match to watch but obviously I'm disappointed. He is a great champion."

Williams had promised to conduct his post-match press conference naked if we were to win the world title, and the jovial Welshman stayed true to his word.


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Wonderful Mark Williams claims third World Championship title

Mark Williams ended a 15-year wait for a third World Championship title after edging past John Higgins 18-16 in a classic final at The Crucible on Monday.

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