King continued his good record against two-times champion Williams, winning 6-3 whilst 17-year-old Belgian sensation Brecel held off last year’s semi finalist Walden to win 6-5 in a marathon match lasting over four hours.
In the earlier-finishing match, Williams clinched a scrappy opener after King failed to capitalise when twice in the balls, a break of 57 proving decisive. Contributions of 26 and 57 were enough for King to get on level terms after a scrappy second and breaks of 49 and 42 edged the Englishman ahead after Williams missed a simple red.
A marvellous sporting gesture from Williams in the next led to King establishing a two-frame advantage at the interval, the Welshman calling a foul on himself after nudging a red with his bridging hand.
The errors continued to flow from the once magic Williams wand in the next, giving King three bites at the cherry to establish a 4-1 advantage as he struggled to get anything going against his nemesis. King piled further agony on Williams in the next, pouncing on another missed red to knock in a 103 break to put himself within a frame of victory. Two scoring visits pulled one back for Williams in the next and the Welshman had King shifting nervously in his seat after reducing the arrears to just two frames with a superb 105 break.
King was in first with a 52 in the next and when Williams left an attempted plant over the pocket, King mopped up to book his second round spot against Brecel.
Walden, who stormed to the semi finals of last year’s event, won a re-racked opener with breaks of 45 and 20 in the evening session. A break of 79 was enough to secure the second frame and an elementary missed pink on 17 let Walden in again in the third, nerves clearly affecting the youngster.
Brecel, who became the youngest player to reach the televised stage at The Crucible at 17 years and one month old, finally looked to have broken the shackles with a 42 break but more elementary missed balls gave Walden a lifeline in the frame. He forced two of the three snookers he needed before the Belgian finally potted the blue he required to get on the board with the frame approaching the 40-minute mark.
Walden capitalised on a poor opening safety from Brecel to rattle in a 68 break but the Belgian bounced back to lay the snooker he needed before knocking in the yellow with an outrageous swerve off the cushion before doubling the pink to seal an amazing comeback at the interval.
Walden restored his frame advantage by winning the next with a 64 break and a break of 94 put him within two of victory at 4-2. A fluid 63 break pulled Brecel back to within one and he pinched the next after both squandered chances to win on the remaining colours to level at 4-4.
With the next frame very much in the balance and the reds well set, Brecel then sportingly called a foul on himself for feathering the cue ball with his cue tip, helping Walden to take the frame.
Brecel won a scrappy 10th on the colours to set up a decider and sealed a brilliant comeback by holding his nerve better than his more experienced opponent to edge a tense decider.
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