Ricky Walden comeback stuns Mark Williams at the Players Championship
Ricky Walden produced a superb comeback from 5-2 down to defeat Mark Williams 6-5 for a place in the Semi-Finals of the 2022 Players Championship on Wednesday.
Walden, appearing in the Players Championship for the first time, continued his magnificent resurgence by staging a spirited fightback to deny the three-time World Champion.
Semi-finalist at the recent German Masters, Walden had knocked out Mark Allen 6-2 in the opening round at the Aldersley Leisure Village this week but looked to be heading for the exit door after a barrage of big breaks from Williams.
The Welshman fired in three centuries on his way to a 4-1 lead and moved to the cusp of victory at 5-2, but only for Walden to reel off four frames on the spin for an unlikely triumph.
“That’s one of the craziest games I’ve been involved in,” Walden told ITV Sport. “It was tough from the start, conditions were tough again for us both.
“I was just hanging in by a thread and fought until the end.
“It’s just awesome to be out there, even then in the decider I just thought ‘I shouldn’t be in this game, I haven’t played very well but I’m still here’ and the crowd were great.
“I just tried to stay with him and thankfully I did and I’m pleased to get through.”
Williams took the opening frame before doubling his lead in style with a break of 103.
Walden got off the mark with a break of 60 to halve the deficit but only for Williams to respond with back-to-back breaks of 107 and 102 for a 4-1 advantage.
Walden replied strongly himself with a break of 123 in frame six, though it was Williams who edged the seventh to go within one of the winning line.
Walden, however, hit back with successive breaks of 65 and 80 to trail 5-4, and after Williams had missed a crucial brown with a chance to clinch frame and match, the Cheshire cueist seized his reprieve to force a decider.
Williams again failed to convert his chances and Walden completed the comeback with a break of 58 to become the first man through to the Semi-Finals.
Earlier in the day, John Higgins launched the defence of his title with a 6-3 win over Shoot-Out champion Hossein Vafaei.
Higgins trailed 2-0 but deep deep to reel off six of the next seven frames for a place in the Quarter-Finals.
The fightback included a hat-trick of centuries from the veteran Scot as he compiled crowd-pleasing breaks of 134, 101 and 108 in setting up a Last Eight clash with Jimmy Robertson.
Robertson pulled off a 6-1 rout of Scottish Open champion Luca Brecel to reach the Quarter-Finals of the Players Championship for the first time.
It was Brecel who struck first with a break of 88, but one-way traffic followed as Robertson rattled in breaks of 51, 51, 91 and 60 on his way to a resounding victory.
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Players Championship 2022 Day Three Results
Wednesday February 9
John Higgins 6-3 Hossein Vafaei
Luca Brecel 1-6 Jimmy Robertson
Ricky Walden 6-5 Mark Williams