By Joe Mansfield.
THE TWO-TIME Welsh Open Champion toppled Michael White, whom he had never previously beaten, with a 4-1 win to start his title bid.
Speaking prior to the game Williams said, “Michael White is too good not to be a professional snooker player.” Despite the praise from his opponent, White was unable to show the class that earned him to ranking event titles.
Neither man was able to find real form in the all Welsh encounter, but it was Williams who found the most comfort on the Celtic Manor cloth. The three-time World Champion was able to piece together small breaks and suffocated his opponent with intelligent defensive play to take the first two frames.
Williams, the only Welshman to win the Welsh Open, employed an unusual strategy at the break off as he played past the bunch onto the cushion and nestled up against the back of the reds. This appears to be an attempt to avoid breaking any loose reds off the pack and denying his opponent an easy opening.
It will be interesting to see if he deploys the same strategy throughout the tournament and if any other player choose to replicate it.
White is nicknamed Lightning, but it was Williams who forced the pace of the game. His average shot time of 15 seconds pressured White into a series of errors and missed chances.
There was some respite for White in the third frame as the scrappy affair gave him enough opportunities to put a frame on the scoreboard.
The Welsh Potting Machine dimmed any hope of a resurgence from his opponent by grinding out yet another lacklustre frame.
In the fifth frame, Williams made his highest break of the game (44) and followed it up with a break of 33 as he seemed to have found some form of fluency. His total of 77 for the frame put him out of reach and safely into the second round of the Welsh Open.
If Williams is to progress into the later stages of the tournament, he will need improve his break building and pot success.
1 – 70 v 1
2 – 69 v 15
3 – 40 v 58
4 – 70 v 36
5 – 77 v 0