by Callum Ellis
THE 21-year wait for a Welshman to lift the Ray Reardon trophy lies in the hands of Dominic Dale after Mark Williams crashed out of the Welsh Open in Cardiff.
Williams, the last Welshman to win the tournament in 1999, was beaten 4-1 by world No 37 Anthony McGill at the Motorpoint Arena.
After falling behind in the opening frame, Williams responded well with a 97 break but lost three consecutive frames as he was sent packing at the round of 32 stage.
McGill took an early advantage with the help of a foul from Williams after he failed to make contact with a red – and the Scotsman sunk two blacks on his way to racking up a break of 35. Williams returned to the table but broke down on a 24 break after rattling a black against the jaws, leaving the ball hanging over the pocket.
Embed from Getty Images
McGill stepped up and sunk a mid-range red before making no mistake in sweeping in a straightforward black, which was gifted to him by his counterpart. He went on to convert three more blacks and tied up the first frame with a 62 break.
But the three-time world champion Williams hit back with a half-century of his own to level things at one apiece. After McGill clattered the jaws with a red following a break of 14, Williams stroked home a red with the help of the rest and cleaned up the table to finish on a 97 break.
Both players struggled to get going in the opening stages of the third, as Williams fouled after failing to make contact with a red. But he snookered McGill in the retake that followed and, as the Scotsman looked to fire into a small cluster of reds, he fouled on the pink.
However, McGill quickly returned to the table after Williams’ attempt at a long red bounced off the jaws – and a 26 break helped the Glasgow man on his way to retaking the lead and claiming the frame.
Embed from Getty Images
McGill was in the ascendancy and did well to convert after firing the cue ball into a cluster of reds in the fourth. He racked up a break of 46 before breaking down as he looked to sink a long red – but it proved to be enough as he took a two-frame advantage for the first time.
And McGill saw out the job to reach the last 16 of the competition for the first time in his career, as he sealed the final frame with a 71-36 scoreline to down the penultimate Welshman left in the tournament.
Williams’ compatriot Dominic Dale is Wales’ last remaining hope as he goes head-to-head with Shaun Murphy in the next round on Thursday evening.