Mark Williams might not agree with a lot that Ronnie O’Sullivan says, but the three-time winner insisted he had no problem exiting this year’s Betfred World Championship at the hands of one of his oldest rivals.
The 45-year-old finished on the wrong end of a 13-10 scoreline in the pair’s quarter-final clash in Sheffield, despite having raced into a 7-2 lead early on in the tie.
The Rocket said on record earlier in the tournament that he was disappointed with the standard of players on the professional tour, but Williams believes his comments showed an unnecessary lack of respect.
But although he wasn't happy with what O'Sullivan had to say about his fellow pros, Williams accepts that he was beaten fair and square by a man he considers the best to have ever played the game in their latest battle.
“I’ve got the utmost respect for Ronnie,” he said. “I’ve grown up alongside him in the game and I know that he’s capable of winning this tournament for sure.
“A lot of what he says is total nonsense - about other players and so on. He’s the pinnacle of our sport and the main headline. You’d never get the likes of Tiger Woods and Roger Federer saying that sort of thing about their fellow pros.
“It’s a bit disrespectful, really. I think there are some promising youngsters coming through, we’re all trying our best and we can’t all be as good as him.”
Having led for the majority of the match, Williams was left frustrated as his opponent produced two tons and two half-centuries to win the last four frames and claim his 32nd victory in 46 meetings between the pair on tour.
But having rediscovered his love for snooker over recent months, the world No.3 - who last lifted the world crown in 2018 - admitted he was happy with his latest Crucible performance and was hungry for more success next season.
He said: “I thought it was a good game to be honest, overall. There was some good stuff, some misses and a few nudges towards the end could have gone my way but it just wasn’t to be.
“I’ve played better than that since I won the title here two years ago, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I lost, but I tried my hardest out there and I can’t do any more than that.
“While I’m away, I’m going to try and continue practicing as much as I can in the mornings. I’ll play some golf in the afternoons, then go back and play snooker again, and repeat.”
Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship from 31st July - 16th August with analysis from Jimmy White.