Mark Williams is one match away from avenging last season's defeat in the Champions Cup final after his semi-final success over John Higgins yesterday.

Williams edged through courtesy of a 5-4 win against the player he replaced as snooker's world number one.

The 25-year-old Welshman, guaranteed #35,000, plays Ronnie O'Sullivan or Stephen Hendry in Sunday's best-of-13 frames final at the Brighton Centre.

''A few years ago John used to beat me on a regular basis but gradually I've been getting the upper hand,'' said the confident world champion.

''I don't think either of us played that well. But one of my strengths these days is that I can win when I'm not at my best.

''I'm a bit like Stephen Hendry used to be. I don't bring my practice form onto the match table but I get through without being 100 per cent.

''Mind you, I'm not saying I'll be able to do it all the time.''

Williams, who won all his three group matches, led 5-2 and was heading for a straightforward 5-2 win after obtaining a snooker on the final brown in frame seven. However, he then failed to pot the brown and Higgins knocked in brown and blue to close the gap to 4-3.

The Scottish star then compiled a break of 110 to force a decider. But a superb pot on a red into a middle pocket set up Williams for a match-clinching clearance of 31 as he took the frame 66-23.

''I never regret any shot I go for,'' said the attack-minded world champion. ''I would rather lose attempting a shot than because of a bad safety.''

Higgins, who picked up #15,000 for reaching the last four, said: ''Mark is playing with a lot of confidence. I didn't do much wrong in the last frame but when you're world champion and world number one, you fancy making the pots.

''The way Mark is playing at the moment he feels he isn't going to miss. And that's a great advantage to have.''

nAdrian Gunnell could be forgiven for breaking into a chorus of ''snooker's coming home'' if he qualifies for the final stages of the #440,000 Grand Prix in Newport.

Gunnell, the world number 88, defeated Dave Finbow 5-1 to reach the final qualifying round and is now one victory away from a place in the televised stage in his native Telford.