You have to feel for Mark Williams. Having won the British Open earlier this season, there was a sense that the three-time world champion was beginning to find his best form again. However, a recurrence of gout, which has troubled the Welshman in recent years, along with the ill-effects of contracting COVID-19, have left Williams struggling to win matches.
The latest setback came in the second round of the UK Championship, where Williams fell asleep in his chair en route to losing 6-5 to veteran Anthony Hamilton. The 45-year-old, who has been suffering from severe fatigue since having covid, was understandably left embarrassed by the incident.
“Thirty years as a professional, that’s the first time I’ve ever fell asleep in the chair,” Williams said. “It was 3-2 and I was out. My head went down, and I woke up and I didn’t have a clue where I was for about five seconds. It was a bit embarrassing but I was just shattered.
“I need to be playing in the mornings really, or afternoons. The more the day goes on the more tired I get. It’s disappointing but there’s a lot worse people that have had Covid than I’ve had it, so I’m one of the lucky ones really.”
Through a combination of illness and fatigue, Williams is now pretty far off the pace as far as his game is concerned. While he was somewhat in the running in the Betfair snooker betting odds ahead of the UK Championship, the reality is that the Welshman has been considerably weakened by his various ailments of late.
As if things weren’t already going against the Welshman, the nature of Hamilton’s win saw the ‘Sheriff of Pottingham’ benefit from a huge slice of fortune. In the midst of the 70 break which won Hamilton the match, he outrageously fluked a red into the yellow pocket after it had wobbled in the jaws of the right middle. When your luck’s out, your luck’s out, and it seems like Williams just can’t catch a break at the moment.
There are plenty of tournaments still to come, and the fact that Williams earned £100,000 for winning the British Open means that he will in all likelihood be present for all three events in the Cazoo Series, which are based on the one-year ranking list — the World Grand Prix, the Players Championship and the Tour Championship. Those are the kind of tournaments that will motivate Williams to rediscover his best form.
It’s easy to forget that before the 2017-18 season, which saw Williams win three ranking events including the World Championship, he had been in the doldrums for some time and was considering quitting the game. His resurgence has been one of the most incredible stories in snooker over the last few years, and it’s only natural that he experiences another decline as he gets older.
One thing’s for sure, Williams will not be too bothered by a few early exits or tournaments missed. As far as the world’s top snooker players go, the Welshman is one of the most laid-back characters you could come across. Right now it might feel like things have been going against him, and he might not be highly fancied in the snooker betting tips today, but his calm and composed demeanour means a return to form could be just around the corner.