A despondent Ricky Walden could not believe he had let a golden opportunity to reach the fourth round of the Betway UK Snooker Championship slip through his fingers after going down 6-5 to Mark Williams in York.
In marathon encounter on Tuesday afternoon, the momentum swung both ways before world number 16 Williams claimed a winner-take-all final frame in dramatic circumstances.
Chester-born Walden had taken a 5-3 lead, with a break of 86 in the seventh frame the highlight.
But after a break of 68 brought two-time UK champion Williams roaring back into the contest, the former Flint High School student was feeling the pressure and missed a routine pink into the middle pocket with the table at his mercy at 5-4.
And Williams made him pay, clearing up the remainder of the balls before a break of 91 in the decider wrapped up a remarkable come-from-behind victory.
“Those defeats are not great to take at all,” said Walden, 34.
“Mark’s made a great break in the end after I went for the red in the middle.
“That miss cost me but well done to him for finishing it off. I just thought I would go for it in that moment but it wasn’t to be for me.”
Walden did make it one round further than last year, beating Scott Donaldson 6-2 and Fang Xiongman 6-0 on his way to the last 32.
And while up next for the world number 17 is German Masters qualifying next week before the Scottish Open in mid-December, his hopes of a spot at the Masters in January are now over, with the cut-off point the end of the UK Championship.
“I’m 16 and Ricky is 17 in the rankings,” said Williams. “So there were nerves there in terms of that, and hopefully that now gives me a good chance of making the Masters again.
“That’s my main aim really, to try and get back there. It’s not the be all and end all, but I’ve set my sights on qualifying as it’s a great tournament.
“I thought I played quite well, and made a lot of one-frame visits while I kept losing all the scrappy frames. It’s normally the other way around for me. It’s nice to know you can still do it when it really matters, but experience doesn’t really count for much when it’s 5-5.
“It’s just about who can get the first chance and holds the nerve better and fortunately I managed to do that.”
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