Masters 2023: Ronnie O’Sullivan knocked out by Mark Williams

Ronnie O'Sullivan
Ronnie O’Sullivan last won the Masters in 2017
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

Seven-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan crashed out in the quarter-finals of the Masters, defeated by Mark Williams 6-5 in a thrilling contest.

Both players turned professional in 1992 and are both 47 years old, but it was Williams who knocked out the world number one and reigning world champion.

O’Sullivan led 3-0, but Williams fought back to take a 5-4 lead and win a dramatic decider.

In the evening session, Hossein Vafaei faces Jack Lisowski.

O’Sullivan won the last of his record seven titles in 2017 but was edged out by Williams’ brilliant comeback, with the Welshman claiming his first victory over English opposition since 2014 at the International Championship.

It didn’t start well though as O’Sullivan made breaks of 115 and 79 to take the first three frames as he threatened to run away with the match.

But two-time winner Williams responded by making 143 – the biggest break of the tournament so far – 90 and 59, the latter winning with a shot after coming to the table 49 points behind.

O’Sullivan forced the decider with a break of 77 and had a chance to win, but missed the black from the point, allowing Williams to claim a memorable victory with a good break of 102.

Williams told BBC Two: “I had no chance in the first three frames, he tied me up in knots, but I felt the crowd wanted me to win towards the end, it’s amazing.

“I’m playing against the greatest player ever, if I don’t beat him for the next 20 years, I don’t care. That’s up there as my best performance. I imagined I would beat him.”

Williams won the Masters in 1998 and 2003, and when asked if he could win a third, he replied: “I won’t go that far. I’ve been playing well for a while and I’m very happy.”

O’Sullivan said: “I just didn’t score, I didn’t make any breaks and my cue ball wasn’t great. I held on, fighting qualities forced the decider.”

“He played better snooker and was more clinical. I was happy to get five and when you don’t play well, you can miss those blacks.”

It is a testament to the longevity and success of both players that they are still competing at the highest level of the sport despite approaching 50 years of age.

Six-time world champion and BBC pundit Steve Davis said: “Enjoy these matches, they won’t last forever.

“It was a special match between two great players, they did well. Williams was stronger in the end, but it was close.”

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