Masters 2023: Mark Williams beat David Gilbert and Barry Hawkins beat Mark Allen

Mark Williams
Mark Williams won the first of his two Masters titles in 1998
place: Alexandra Palace, London Dates: January 8 – January 15
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV and Red Button with non-stop coverage on BBC iPlayer, the BBC Sport website and the BBC Sport app

Mark Williams set up a Masters quarter-final with Ronnie O’Sullivan after a comfortable 6-2 win over David Gilbert.

Two-time champion Williams got off to a flying start, using breaks of 126, 127 and 95 on her way to a 4-0 lead.

Gilbert rallied with 59 and 80, but Williams capitalized on mistakes as he came from behind in the next two frames to seal his victory.

Earlier on Tuesday, Barry Hawkins completed a 6-0 rout of British champion Mark Allen.

Welshman Williams meets world number one O’Sullivan in the round of 16 at Alexandra Palace on Thursday.

“Nothing beats going out in front of this crowd. It’s the best venue I’ve ever played in,” Williams told BBC Sport.

“I’m enjoying every minute. I don’t know how many more times I’ll be back, so when I come back with all these fans, it’s special.

“It will be amazing [playing O’Sullivan]there’ll be two and a half thousand here and I’ll probably have three people in the corner wanting me to win, but that’s how it is when you play Ronnie.

“I play well so I’m nobody’s governor.”

A misjudged pot on the red with a long break by Gilbert was severely punished in the opener by Williams who began in methodical and clinical fashion with her first century of the match.

And while he got a little steamy after winning the second and third frames in one away game, he resolutely punished Gilbert’s mistakes throughout, the Englishman losing two frames despite making a half-century, including in the eighth of the night when both players were briefly distracted by a wasp that fly around the arena.

A flawless Hawkins swept Allen

Prior to that, Hawkins had a comprehensive win over Northern Ireland’s Allen and will now face either Judd Trump or Ryan Day in the next round.

The Englishman combined shrewd tactical play with some superb play as he dominated throughout, making breaks of 76 and 114 en route to victory over one of the best players of the season.

The 43-year-old, who lost to Neil Robertson in last year’s final, entered the contest as a slight underdog, with Allen, who defended his Northern Ireland Open title earlier in the season, looking to secure a back-to-back treble.

“That was probably one of the best safeties I’ve ever played against as a pro,” said Allen, who is making his fifth consecutive first-round exit.

“I couldn’t even play a good return most of the time. There was a spell in that match where I could barely see the ball. Barry was flawless. It was a phenomenal performance.”

Allen becomes the fourth successive UK champion to be knocked out of the Masters at the first hurdle, with Hawkins once again reserving his best for the big occasion.

“I didn’t smell him and when I had to put him in trouble I did. I’m a bit flattered by the result,” Hawkins told BBC Sport.

“I think I won the match with my confidence. If I was ultra critical, I probably could have scored a bit better, but I kept Marko under pressure. There were very few unforced errors and I think that made the difference in the end.

“I seem to thrive without the crowd and the pressure. A lot of times I’ve played my best stuff under the most pressure.”

Hawkins overturned a 55-point deficit to win the first frame and gain the upper hand in a protracted security exchange before building on a blistering half-century to win the second from an incredible position, with the balls awkwardly gathered on the table.

A lucky in-off, followed by a momentary tactical error and a foul by Allen, gave Hawkins a 3-0 lead with a beautiful century, and when Allen missed a brown ball into the top right corner, it allowed Hawkins to clinch a nervy fourth frame .

With Allen’s streak below 40%, two solid hits saw Hawkins take the fifth frame, then come back in the sixth to cap off his 34th win.

Analysis: ‘Hawkins has a game that can be a prolific winner’

Former world champion Ken Doherty on BBC Two

It was a fantastic performance by Hawkins. He completely dominated. There is no doubt that he has the game to be a prolific winner.

He is a silent killer. He goes about his business methodically and efficiently, but his control of the cue ball is exemplary.

He is a wonderful matchplayer. If he can’t score, he’ll tie you to that cushion and put himself in a really strong position. It’s not in his nature to be flashy, but every part of his game is quality.

He may not be the best in any department, but he’s in the top 10% in all of them, and that can be good enough.

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