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Williams sets up O’Sullivan clash as Hawkins whitewashes Allen

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Williams hit back-to-back centuries against Gilbert (Credit: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo)

Mark Williams will play Ronnie O’Sullivan in the Masters quarter-finals following a 6-2 victory over David Gilbert on Tuesday.

The two-time champion hit back-to-back centuries as he marked his 50th match at snooker’s most prestigious invitational event with a commanding win at Alexandra Palace.

After surging into a 4-0 lead, Williams withstood a brief fightback from two-time semi-finalist Gilbert, as well as an unexpected encounter with a wasp in the arena.

The Welshman subsequently set up a mouth-watering class-of-92 clash with seven-time winner O’Sullivan in the last eight on Thursday.

Williams, who narrowly missed out on reaching last year’s final after a dramatic 6-5 defeat by Neil Robertson, quickly hit his stride with successive centuries of 126 and 127, as well as a break of 95 on the way to a commanding 4-0 advantage.

Seeking his fifth win in seven matches at this tournament, Gilbert rallied to stop the rot with runs of 59 and 80 for 4-2.

The Angry Farmer threatened to close the gap further. But contributions of 55 and 64 in the next two frames proved in vain, as Williams produced two nerveless clearances to snatch them both on the black and seal victory.

Earlier in the day, the in-form Mark Allen was eliminated following a surprise 6-0 whitewash by Barry Hawkins.

The Pistol is the player of the season having already captured the Northern Ireland Open and UK Championship thus far, but could not avert the Masters’ first whitewash in five years.

Champion in 2018, Allen had subsequently suffered four successive first-round exits, but appeared in control of the opening frame as he built a 55-0 lead.

However, Hawkins clawed his way back before eventually drawing first blood on the pink, while he opened a 3-0 advantage with breaks of 76 and 114.

Allen then squandered an opportunity to reduce the deficit as he overcut the brown, enabling the Hawk to move further clear at the interval.

The two-time runner-up did not relent upon the contest’s resumption to inflict the first 6-0 defeat at the tournament since O’Sullivan whitewashed Marco Fu in 2018.