Mark Williams beats John Higgins to clinch world championship

Mark Williams took a third world championship title at the Crucible. Linnea Rheborg/Getty Images

Mark Williams has won the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible, beating John Higgins 18-16 in the final in Sheffield.

Having stretched his lead to 14-7, Williams saw Higgins fight his way back as Higgins made exactly the start to the evening session that he needed, reeling off three frames in 50 minutes.

He made breaks of 131, 67 and 82, each time ruthlessly punishing mistakes from Williams whose once huge lead was down to just two frames at 15-13.

All the momentum was with Higgins, who had won six of the last seven frames, and Williams desperately needed to halt the charging Scot.

The drama was relentless and after Higgins drew level at 15-15 there was an unexpected shift in momentum.

Williams reeled off two frames in a row, the second with a 100 break, but then missed a pink in the next frame that was match ball.

Higgins cleared with a run of 65, taking the frame, but Williams was not to be denied glory.

He made 69 in the next to leave Higgins needing snookers, but they did not come. It was not his night, but it very nearly was.

Williams said: "It's unbelievable. Twelve months ago I wasn't even here. I watched it in a caravan. To play John in a final is an experience in itself.

"You've got to expect a comeback because when you're 50 or 60 in front he's the best I've ever seen at clearing up and that includes O'Sullivan.

"I knew at the end if I didn't get enough he was going to clear up again. But I'm over the moon."

Williams thanked wife Joanne for convincing him to keep playing when he contemplated quitting last year.

And after saying earlier in the tournament that he would go naked to his press conference if he won the title, Williams said he would go through with that plan.

He said: "As long as Barry Hearn isn't going to fine me or discipline me I'll have to do it," before Williams walked into his press conference undressed apart from a towel.