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Mark Williams relishing Crucible showdown with “fourth son” Jackson Page

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Williams struggled through his clash with Clarke (PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

Mark Williams says Jackson Page is more like a “fourth son” than a friend after setting up a second-round Crucible clash with his protégé.

The three-time World champion booked his place in round two with a commanding 10-3 victory over compatriot Michael White in Sheffield on Monday.

Williams – a beaten quarter-finalist by the eventual champion in the last two years – hit breaks of 138, 121 and 116 along the way, as well as a further three contributions over 50.

That sets up an eagerly anticipated clash with Page, who marked his Crucible defeat with a hugely impressive 10-7 win over 2013 runner-up Barry Hawkins on Sunday.

Though pegged back to 8-7 from 6-2 up, the 20-year-old completed his victory in sublime fashion; producing back-to-back tons of 128 and 135 under the most intense pressure.

“It’s going to be tough because he’s not just a friend; he’s more like my fourth son really,” said Williams.

“He comes to the house; we play cards together with my kids, pizzas, golf, badminton – you name it, we do it together.

“Unless he blanks me for the next two days, I’m assuming we’ll be having something to eat together tonight. It will be interesting to see how he acts now.”

Understandably, all friendships will be put to one side when battle commences on Thursday.

But while Williams is fully focused on sealing a third successive quarter-final appearance, he admits he would not begrudge the world number 90 glory.

“Obviously, I’m going to try my best to beat him and I want to destroy him – there’s no question,” he added.

“I don’t like losing to anybody but, if I am going to lose to anybody and I had to pick, it would be him.

“I’m going try my best to win but if I lose, I will have no problem at all. If it means him getting in the top 64 by beating me, I’m half on his side anyway.

“We’ve got a few [people] up from the club. It’s going to be interesting to see which side of the balcony some of them are on.”

Earlier today, 2020 semi-finalist Anthony McGill sealed a 10-7 victory over Liam Highfield, while Northern Ireland Open champion Mark Allen established a narrow 5-4 lead against Scott Donaldson.