Mark Williams has paid tribute to the "unbelievable" Alexandra Palace crowd following his thrilling 6-5 win over John Higgins in the Masters quarter-finals.
Williams turned professional alongside Higgins and Ronnie O'Sullivan as part of the fabled 'Class of '92' but both former world champions were gushing about the intensity of the occasion rather than the final outcome at the London venue in the 48th edition of the coveted invitational event.
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Around 2,000 fans gave the green baize giants a unique standing ovation before the memorable encounter, ahead of their final-frame decider and after the epic contest that witnessed Higgins make breaks of 126, 127 and 61 with Williams compiling 116, 66, 78 and a 91 to finish off in style.
“That’s the best reception I’ve ever had in 30 years as a professional," said 1998 and 2003 Masters winner Williams, who will face Neil Robertson in his first Masters semi-final since 2010.
"I’ve had some good atmospheres, but that was electric. It felt like they were applauding for ten minutes before we could even break off. Coming out for the final frame they were doing it again.

Williams seals epic victory over Higgins with sensational match-winning break

“I’ve got nothing but respect for John. He’s not my rival anymore and he hasn’t been for a few years now. When we were youngsters I really wanted to win, it’s not like that anymore. It is a special occasion every time I play him.
I’ll never forget the atmosphere in there tonight. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I’ve got to thank the crowd for making that atmosphere, because I wasn’t expecting it.
"That was unbelievable. If I could go out and shake every one of there hands I would.”
Williams and Higgins played out a match befitting their status in the sport over the past four decades.
When 1984 Masters winner and Eurosport pundit Jimmy White asked the Welsh professional about the second standing ovation, the 2000, 2003 and 2018 world champion replied: “I was in the toilet actually. And I heard them cheering for John. And when I went in, it was just electric.

'Probably the best atmosphere I’ve played in!' - Williams in awe of crowd

"You know, it is probably the best atmosphere I've ever played in 30 years as a professional.
“It was just a great occasion.
I mean, I've never experienced a crowd like that. We had a standing ovation at the start which felt like it went for 10 minutes, and then again before the final frame.
“The respect between me and John is massive, but when the crowd is like that it is unbelievable.”
Higgins leads Williams 21-20 on their career head-to-heads after suffering more final-frame agony following 9-8 defeats to Mark Allen in the Northern Ireland Open final and Robertson in the English Open final respectively.
The Scotsman was also out edged out by Zhao Xintong 6-5 in the UK Championship last 32 last month.
“That was one of the best nights in my snooker career, with the atmosphere," said the two-times winner Higgins, who lost the Masters final 10-8 to Yan Bingtao behind closed doors in Milton Keynes a year ago.
I’m not even gutted, because I gave it everything and I just wasn’t good enough in the end. I am just delighted that the crowd had a great match. I had a great match and I loved playing out there.
"It is great to be back playing at Ally Pally.”

Crowd goes wild as Higgins lands sensational double against Williams

2022 Masters quarter-finals

Thu 13 Jan

  • 13:00 - Neil Robertson 6-4 Ronnie O'Sullivan
  • 19:00 - Mark Williams 6-5 John Higgins

Fri 14 Jan

  • 13:00 - Judd Trump v Kyren Wilson
  • 19:00 - Barry Hawkins v Mark Selby

Semi-final

Sat 15 Jan
  • 13:00 - Neil Robertson v Mark Williams
  • 19:00 - To be decided v To be decided

Final

Sun 16 Jan
  • 13 + 19:00 - To be decided v To be decided
- -
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