Recently crowned BetVictor European Masters champion Barry Hawkins had to put his celebrations on hold, when he found himself unable to get home after being caught in the middle of the travel chaos caused by Monday’s UK Air Traffic control failure.
Hawkins enjoyed the elation of breaking a six-year ranking title drought on Sunday night in Nuremberg, when he scored a momentous 9-6 win over Judd Trump to capture silverware for the first time since the 2017 World Grand Prix. However, his period of ecstasy was short lived when he made it to Frankfurt Airport the next day and found he had no way of getting home.
After that, 48 hours of uncertainty and changes in plans ensued, with four-time ranking event winner Hawkins and thousands of other Brits scrambling to find alternative routes home. The Londoner has finally managed to get back and only now is he able to savour and reflect on the gravity of what he has achieved.
Hawkins explained: “The elation didn’t last too long. I got to the airport around midday. I checked my stuff in and within an hour of being there everything kicked off. I was in limbo for the rest of the day. It eventually became clear the flight was cancelled and then it was about trying to get my stuff back. There was no communication. I was just sat there waiting for my bags to come through. I didn’t want to leave the airport incase they got lost. I was at the airport for ten hours waiting. I got my suitcase back, but still didn’t have my cue. I left the airport at 10pm without it. That was a difficult time, because I started thinking about Luca Brecel and how he lost his cue for 10 days. I have qualifying for the Wuhan Open on Sunday and I had no idea where it was. I went back the next day and thankfully it was sat there in a pile with lots of other luggage. That was a massive relief.
“I had to make a plan at that point. There were no flights for me for the next few days. Everything was fully booked up with people trying to get home. The Eurostar tickets were sold out as well. I decided to take two trains and get myself to Brussels and then rented a car. I drove to Calais, but there was no time left for foot passengers to get on the ferry. I had to pay for my friend to get the Euro Tunnel over and pick me up. We got home at about 10pm last night, I had 30 minutes to see my family and went to bed. My car was still at Heathrow, so I had to get up first thing in the morning and take the train to London, the tube to Paddington and another train to the airport and drive home.
“I’m going with my family for a nice bit of lunch and then having a few celebratory beers with my friends this evening. That is great and it is going to give me a chance to let the achievement sink in. I’ve got nothing else to do now, I can enjoy it. I’ll have a day off tomorrow, practise on Friday and then head to Leicester for Wuhan Open qualifying on Sunday.”
Despite the travel complications, Hawkins can now take stock on what he has described as one of the best weeks of his career. Following his win at the 2017 World Grand Prix, he appeared in four further ranking finals and was runner-up on each occasion. He admits those losses did lead to doubts and he wondered if he would ever enter the winner’s enclosure again.
Hawkins believes persistence and structuring his practice routine more efficiently was crucial for his success last week. He hopes this is an approach which will continue to serve him well moving forward.
“Your belief takes a knock every tournament you turn up at. It is hard to take. There is only one winner at the end of the day. There are are 127 players who come up short. To keep having that belief is difficult if you keep getting beat. To finally come out as the winner at the end of a big event is amazing. If you get to finals you have done well and it is a great week. Once you get to a few finals you realise that nobody remembers the runner-up. You want to get your hands on a trophy and be the winner,” said 44-year-old Hawkins.
“There have been so many low moments. I’ve lost count of them over the years. You are always going to get them. It is just about how you bounce back. That is the way it is. You need to keep practising and keep plugging away. Hopefully you will turn up one day and it will be your week. This time it was my week.
“You always doubt yourself, whether you are good enough and whether you will get to the latter stages of tournaments again. I try to find a balance. I’m not practising as hard as I used to when I was younger. I am practising the right way now and that works for me. I don’t live on the table 24/7 like a lot of players. If I turn up to tournaments fresh and looking forward to playing that seems to be the best way for me. You need to stay dedicated, but you don’t need to be doing a silly amount of hours.”
Despite the difficult defeats of recent years, Hawkins is keen to keep perspective. He admits that the win is a monkey off of his back and hopes that it can set up the foundations for what could be a huge season ahead.
“What else are you going to do? You need to keep going. Everyone has bills to pay at the end of the day. Snooker is a tough game but we are lucky at the end of the day. There are a lot of people worse off out there. You have to keep going and enjoy what you are doing. It is great that the perseverance has paid off and I’m now here with the trophy.
“When Judd was coming back at me in the final I was thinking that I was going to have to face people again saying well done having not won. I don’t have to put up with all of that now. I’ve won the first big event of the season now. What more can you ask for? You never know what is going to happen for the rest of the season, but this is a great start.”