Masters 2021: Mark Williams welcomes efforts for tournament to go ahead


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Mark Williams won the Masters in 1998 and 2003
Mark Williams won the Masters in 1998 and 2003
Dates: 10-17 January Venue: Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website and the BBC Sport app. Highlights on BBC Two and online.

Two-time Masters champion Mark Williams has praised snooker organisers for making sure this year’s event will take place, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 45-year-old Welshman faces England’s Shaun Murphy in the first round on Monday (19:00 GMT).

“It’s a difficult time for everyone and just to get the tournaments on is tremendous,” said Williams, who won in 1998 and 2003.

“I think all the players are more than thankful for that.”

He added: “It’s a good thrill as obviously it’s only the top 16 in the world that get in it. It’s one of the top tournaments we play and you want to get in.

“Playing in the Masters you’re going to get a proper player [as an opponent] and that’s what [Murphy] is. But I’ll try and get a run going and get some [ranking] points going to try and stay in the top 16 for the Crucible [World Championship].”

The Masters, which started on Sunday, is taking place at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes having been moved from London’s Alexandra Palace.

“Obviously it’s different with the circumstances, it’s at Milton Keynes with no crowds, and even though you’ll try and treat it differently as the Masters it’s probably going to feel like any other tournament,” Williams, speaking to BBC Sport Wales, added.

“Playing in the same place every time does get a little bit boring. All tournaments just blend into one, but we can’t moan about that as just to have a tournament to play in is good enough for the players.”

All players will be tested for Covid-19 the day before their first match, and they will remain within the bubble while they are at the tournament.

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