Never-give-up attitude gets Williams through


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Mark Williams had to battle late into the night to edge out John Astley 6-5 at the International Championship qualifying in Sheffield.

The Welshman was having his first competitive outing of the new season and survived a thorough test of his credentials to secure his passage into the final stages in China.

Breaks of 68, 66, 61 and 55 had helped Williams into a 5-3 advantage having initially lost the opening two frames but the 2018 world champion wasn’t able to close the door on the world’s 87th-ranked player.

A fine contribution of 94 cut the deficit to a single frame and Astley edged frame 10 to force a decider.

Williams made a break of 55 on his way to clinching the final frame to secure his place in Daqing, with the clock just shy of midnight when the Welshman shook hands with Astley.

The left-hander joined the lies of Ali Carter, Barry Hawkins, Stuart Bingham and Shaun Murphy in winning their qualifiers.

Williams will meet fellow Welshman Jak Jones in Daqing. Qualifying continues on Monday with more of the world’s top-16 in action.

Kyren Wilson takes on Brandon Sargeant on Monday evening in their best-of-11 tussle while Scotland’s Stephen Maguire is also on the baize when he faces Jamie O’Neill.

Also on Monday evening, Fergal O’Brien and Nigel Bond square off in a battle of the veterans.

Sergeant is 10.00 to stun Wilson, with The Warrior priced at 4.20 to claim a 6-2 victory.

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