THE UK Championship has now lost four of the world’s top ten inside the opening round after a “shocking”
Mark Williams last night became the latest big name to make an early exit.
The two-time winner looked horribly out of sorts against the granite-like Mark King and duly lost 6-3, joining holder and world number one Judd Trump, the well-fancied Mark Allen and former champion Ding Junhui on the list of casualties.
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But while the experienced King deserved his win and is no amateur – the experienced Essex cueman improved throughout, knocking in a polished sixth-frame 103 – World Snooker would probably have liked to avoid so many stellar names falling early on.
With Ronnie O’Sullivan taking an extended break from the game, there is a great need for the sport to show it can survive without its biggest draw and, although other stars remain – Neil Robertson was an impressive winner yesterday – there is no denying those to have perished are among those many expected to carry the baton in his absence.
“I was terrible. Shocking,”
Williams, the fifth-best in the world, said.
“I felt all right going in but I couldn’t pot three balls on the trot. The table was beautiful, there was a good crowd, everything you could want.
It’s getting boring for me to say how badly I am playing.”
Williams, who lifted the trophy in 2000 and 2003, jokingly suggested he may retire such is how he rates his form, before adding: “I couldn’t beat a man with no arms at the minute.”
For his part, King, who occupies the last spot in the top 32, was satisfied with his night’s work.
‘‘I played pretty solid and you take whatever you can get,’’ he said. ‘‘I made a 50-odd and made a century and I’m happy.’’ Williams is one of the seven players to list the World, UK and Masters titles on his resume, something Australian left-hander Robertson hopes to be able to do come Sunday.
He beat Tom Ford 6-1 and cracking in four centuries in the process.
While one Welsh former winner went home in the shape of Williams, another went through with Matthew Stevens, victorious in 2003, getting the better of fellow countryman Dominic Dale 6-1.