sport

Williams makes his mark

Mark Williams safely negotiated qualifying at the Welsh Open as he overcame Liu Chuang 4-1 at the Newport Centre.

Williams won the tournament in 1996 and 1999 but has admittedly underperformed in the event in recent years, with his runner-up finish in 2003 being his best performance since the turn of the century.

Liu got the first points on the table but Williams soon set about asserting himself with a break of 66.

The Welshman missed a presentable red to give his opponent another chance but a clinical red for Williams saw him clinch the first frame.

However, Liu hit back to take the second before some superb, innovative shots guided Williams to the third with Liu just an onlooker.

There was a cagey opening to the fourth before Williams took control to move into a 3-1 lead and the brink of victory.

Williams started the fifth with a break of 32 but Liu was still cool, making life hard for his opponent with a series of snookers.

However, Williams was patient and when his chance arose he sharply potted a red with Liu conceding to set up a meeting with Robert Milkins in the last 32.

Defending champion Ding Junhui was first up at the Newport Centre against Dechawat Poomjaeng, bronze medallist at the Asian Games, and a 4-2 victory saw him through.

Liang Wenbo eased through with a 4-1 win over Ryan Day.

Last year's losing finalist Mark Selby underlined his title credentials with a 4-0 dismissal of Steve Davis.

Selby made his intentions clear from the start with Davis a virtual bystander for much of the first frame.

Ding had identified Selby as a threat to his crown and that challenge was

underlined when Selby took the second with a 144 break.

The 29-year-old was ruthless in the third and while Davis got himself into a good position at 44-22 in the fourth, he failed to take advantage of a

well-placed black.

Selby made no mistake and eased into the last 32.

John Higgins hit breaks of 120, 99 and 97 as he beat Gareth Allen 4-1.