World champion Williams eyes 'really good warm-up' for title defence

Snooker

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World champion Mark Williams says this week's Tour Championship in Llandudno is a "really good warm-up" in his bid to defend his world title next month.

The tournament will see the top eight players in the world this season contest a knockout event with a prize of 150,000 for the winner.

Williams is ranked number six and will play third-ranked Judd Trump in a first-round tie beginning on Tuesday.

"It is a really good warm-up for the World Championships," said Williams.

The opening match will be played over two days, mirroring the World Championship format, which Williams thinks suits the game's top players.

"In the first round I've got Judd Trump - it just goes to show how tough it is and it's best of 17 frames, which everyone would prefer and you'll be a good man to pick a winner to be honest," Williams told BBC Wales Sport.

"It's a first time they've had this tournament with just the top eight - it's very tough to get in because you've got to do well in a lot of tournaments to get in it."

Williams said he was looking forward to competing on Welsh soil - once he finally arrives.

"Venue Cymru is brilliant and Llandudno is a lovely place to go," said Williams.

"People say it's a home tournament but it's a four-hour drive for me. I could get to Cyprus in the same time that I could get there"

With a prize fund of 375,000 the winner will take home 150,000 and the 43-year-old has says Ronnie O'Sullivan is the favourite to take that top prize.

O'Sullivan became the first player to compile 1,000 professional century breaks earlier this month when he won the Players Championship in Preston.

"He's always the one to beat when his head is on," said Williams.

"When he was in Cardiff in the Welsh Open in February he didn't really look that interested to be honest in playing, but when he turns up and he is interested he is almost unbeatable," he said.

The China Open follows the Tour Championship in the schedule before Williams, who was given the freedom of Blaenau Gwent in recognition of his achievements, gets to defend his world title in Sheffield next month.

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