Five-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan faces a battle to stay in the World Championship after Mark Williams hit form to build a commanding lead at the Crucible on Monday.
Welshman Williams, 45, seeking a fourth world title of his own, won five consecutive frames to take a 6-2 overnight advantage in the best-of-25 quarter-final. The duo shared the opening four frames before the mid-session interval, including a century from O’Sullivan.
But the 44-year-old was second best on the resumption of play. Williams edged a scrappy fifth frame before propelling himself into a healthy position with breaks of 72, 56 and a superb 130.
Earlier, O’Sullivan came under fire over his claim that the standard of snooker is so poor lower in the rankings that he would have to ‘lose an arm and a leg to fall out of the top 50’.
Ken Doherty, the 1997 world champion, told the BBC: ‘Name another sportsman who would slag off the rest of the tour saying they are not that good. The standard is as high as ever. It may be tongue-in-cheek but it is not nice. It is derogatory.
‘All of those players look up to Ronnie and he has a duty to them as an ambassador to the game. He is a hero to all those players on the tour. I don’t know whether they will still think he is a character or look up to him.’
In the battle of qualifiers, Scot Anthony McGill looks on course for a maiden Crucible semi-final after forging a 7-1 lead over Norwegian Kurt Maflin. Their match resumes today.