Northern Ireland Open: Mark Williams battles pain to edge Elliot Slessor

Mark Williams won the Northern Ireland Open title in 2017
Mark Williams won the Northern Ireland Open title in 2017

Mark Williams literally limped into the third round of the Northern Ireland Open as he battled through the pain barrier to beat Elliot Slessor 4-3.

The three-time World champion, 46, is suffering from gout in his left foot.

“It was a good win for me even though I didn’t expect to win again and managed to scrape through,” Williams said.

“It was nearly four hours there for a best of seven (frames), I’m not sure I’ve played four hours for a best of seven in my life.”

The Welshman had considered withdrawing from the event prior to his first-round game in Belfast, but managed to beat Mark Joyce 4-1.

“I was very close (to withdrawing). I went to bed Monday, I was fine, I woke up Tuesday morning just screaming in pain, I couldn’t put my foot down,” said Williams, who won the Northern Ireland title in 2017.

“The first time my foot touched the ground really was Saturday night and that’s when I booked my flight, I thought I may as well go over and give it a go.

“It must be difficult for who you’re playing as well because they see me hopping round the table, can’t get to easy shots, can’t put any pressure on it (the foot).

“I don’t know what my shot time is, but it would be pretty slow.

“I try my best, like I do every time, but even at 3-2 up I’d had enough out there, I didn’t want to play anymore it just started throbbing again.

“That throbbing pain has eased up a little bit, but perhaps I’d been on it for quite a few hours yesterday in my match (against Joyce) and then nearly four hours there it just started throbbing – I’d just had enough, to be honest.”

After edging Slessor, Williams will now face either Martin Gould or compatriot Jak Jones in the next round.

“I think I’ve got one or two days off now which is good, so I’m just going to keep off it as much as I can really – just lie in bed and do nothing,” Williams added.

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