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Mark Williams sinks Ronnie O’Sullivan to clinch Tour Championship crown

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Ronnie O’Sullivan v Mark Williams live stream | Tour Championship 2024 Final preview

Williams reeled off the last seven frames to defeat O’Sullivan

Mark Williams produced another inspirational performance to capture the 2024 Tour Championship after a 10-5 victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan.

The popular Welshman recovered from 5-3 down in the Manchester Central showpiece on Sunday, winning each of the final seven frames to win the 26th ranking title of his career – and second this season.

Williams arrived for the elite 12-man tournament fatigued and jetlagged at the start of the week, following a recent trip to China.

But after producing a stunning 69 clearance from 54-0 down to scrape past Tom Ford in the opening round, the 49-year-old went from strength to strength – sweeping Judd Trump and Mark Allen aside before repeating the feat in the final against O’Sullivan.

“I played well all day. I was 3-1 up and then I went 5-3 down. Ronnie played unbelievable,” he told ITV. “But tonight, I took it to him, I played well and it was nice to have the family up.

“The crowd has been fantastic all week and given everybody great support. I can’t believe I’ve won, to be honest.

“It’s not bad for a part-timer! I never thought I was going to win tournaments at 48; I’m 49 now and I’ve just won another one!

“I think I’m a better all-round player now than I’ve ever been. I just try my best. I’m absolutely over the moon. I beat the three best players in the world; I’ve not done it the easy way.”

Despite their glittering careers, incredibly, this was the first time the Class of ’92 members had faced off in a ranking final in almost a quarter of a century.

Williams, who was beaten 9-5 in the 2000 China Open showpiece, drew first blood with 66 and though O’Sullivan levelled, further runs of 91, 66 and 67 put him 3-1 to the good at the mid-session interval.

The Rocket was eyeing his sixth title of a remarkable season, in which he has already triumphed at the Shanghai Masters, UK Championship, Masters, World Grand Prix and Saudi World Masters.

He came roaring back after the break with swift contributions of 102, 127, 59 and 121, as he reeled off four frames in just 37 minutes to head into the evening session with a 5-3 advantage.

Though Williams prevailed in their most recent encounter in last year’s Masters quarter-finals, it represented only his second victory in 24 meetings between the players.

Nevertheless, he had already defied two significantly inferior head-to-head records earlier in the week against Trump (losing eight of the previous nine) and Allen (losing nine of the previous 10), and was about to do so again.

Taking a close opening frame of the evening to halve the deficit, Williams then levelled with a wonderful break of 104, before recovering from 42-6 down to regain a lead he extended to 7-5 with 99.

The Welshman continued his momentum. He cleared with 112 after O’Sullivan broke down on 23 in frame 13, before a break of 78 moved him one from victory at 9-5 ahead.

It was deja vu for Williams, who had remarkably reeled off nine frames without reply during his semi-final win over Allen, creating Tour Championship history along the way.

The three-time World champion required no second opportunity to secure a remarkable victory, which he sealed in the final red by doubling the final red.

“I think he’s been the most consistent player for the last five years,” a magnanimous O’Sullivan said. “Very rarely does he play a poor match.

“The way he’s played this week, the way he played tonight – he’s just an amazing player. He’s so talented. I think he’s better now than he’s ever been. He just seems so strong.

“I gave it everything this afternoon to stay in the match, but he’s just so consistent and so strong. If you don’t keep playing top-level snooker, he’ll just eat you alive. I think I did well to get five frames today!

“If he was to dedicate his whole life to it, he’d probably be number one in the world – but he likes to play golf, chill out and enjoy his life!

“He’s probably the most talented player I’ve ever seen, and he deserves his victory.”