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Williams holds nerve to win world snooker title in epic final

Mark Williams, 43, is the tournament's oldest winner for 40 years

Mark Williams of Wales beat Scotland’s John Higgins 18-16 in a dramatic final on Monday night to win his third world snooker title at the age of 43 and become the tournament’s oldest winner for 40 years.

Higgins, 42, fought back from 15-10 down to level at 15-15 but Williams won the next two frames and although he missed a simple pink to clinch the match 18-15, he kept his nerve to close out victory 15 years after he won his second world crown.

“You have to expect a comeback from John Higgins, when you are 50-60 in front he is the best at coming back,” Williams said at the presentation ceremony.

“I knew at the end if I didn’t get enough in front he would clear up again but I’m over the moon. Last year I was seriously thinking of giving up, but my game is in pretty good shape now.”

Higgins, four-times world champion, finished runner-up for the second year in a row.

“It was unbelievable to play in front of this crowd,” he said. “The last frame was just a joke there for him to play that well under that pressure. He is a great champion.”

Welshman Ray Reardon won his sixth world title in 1978 at the age of 45 to become the oldest winner of the event.

Williams stayed true to his word by conducting his post-match news conference naked.

The 43-year-old had promised to strip off if he won.

“It’s an unbelievable story. Here I am winning the 2018 World Championships … bollock naked,” said Williams.

“Where has it come from? Unbelievable 12 months. If I never win another tour or my form goes downhill I don’t care. I’ve just done something I thought I’d never ever do.”

Williams looked forward to returning to the Crucible next year and promised to outdo himself if he defended his title.

“I’m just looking forward to coming back next year, I’m not going to say anything stupid and end up like this but to be honest if I won this next year I’d cartwheel down here naked.”

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