Williams comeback stuns Gilbert to claim World Open glory

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Williams scoops the £150,000 title in China (credit:Eurosport)

Mark Williams produced a magnificent fightback from 9-5 down to deny David Gilbert and snatch the 2018 World Open title in a deciding frame.

Gilbert looked to be firmly on course to claim a first major ranking title but saw his hopes shattered by an inspired Williams comeback as the Welshman reeled off five consecutive frames to triumph in Yushan.

Williams, who won his third world title in May, takes his tally of career ranking triumphs to 22 and leapfrogs Ronnie O’Sullivan to become the new world number two.

“At 9-5 down I was almost out,” Williams told World Snooker. “To win three matches I have looked like losing is unbelievable.

“I never give up or let my head drop, no matter what the score is. I never let my opponent see that I’m losing heart, and then sometimes it does turn around.

“Whatever is going on, you have to stick in there.

“I feel for David, he didn’t have that many clear-cut chances. I played really well from 9-5 and put him under pressure. I won it more than he lost it.

“When I get home I’ll be straight to the caravan park, then I have to decide whether to have a drink to celebrate the World Championship win or a drink to celebrate this one. Or I might just double up and do both!”

David Gilbert plays a shot (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Gilbert was left to rue a crucial miss at a red when leading 9-5, and admitted: “The occasion got to me.”

The former tractor driver added: “It has been a good week but sadly it has ended in one of the most disappointing things that has ever happened to me. I have to congratulate Mark because he saw it through.”

Gilbert, appearing in his first ranking final for three years, had established a 5-4 lead at the close of play in the first session.

He took the opening two frames before Williams replied with a 91 break, and after Gilbert went two clear again, the left-hander responded superbly with a break of 121 to peg back.

Gilbert then equalled Noppon Saengkham’s tournament high break as he compiled a sensational 142 clearance to make it 4-2, and after Williams hit back with successive frames, the Tamworth cueist clinched frame nine to hit the front at the halfway stage.

Gilbert began the evening session brightly by overturning a 58-point deficit with a 68 clearance in frame ten before extending his lead courtesy of a 95 break.

The 37-year-old then repeated the feat in the following frame to go 8-4 ahead before Williams stopped the rot with a half century.

A well-taken break of 84 moved Gilbert to the verge of a historic triumph, but a costly missed red in the next frame proved the turning point as Williams made a 76 to grab a lifeline.

He then secured frames 16 and 17 in quick succession to peg back to just 9-8 behind and duly forced a decider with a nerveless 72 break.

Gilbert failed to generate a clear cut match-winning opportunity in the decider and Williams utilised his vast experience to produce a decisive 64 break to complete the comeback.