Barry Hawkins inflicted Luca Brecel’s first defeat as World Champion, coming through a deciding frame to win 5-4 in their last 16 clash at the BetVictor European Masters in Nuremberg.
Defeat for Brecel ends his ambitions of emerging from this event as world number one. The 28-year-old had to make the semi-finals to leapfrog Ronnie O’Sullivan, but ended up falling two hurdles short.
Hawkins is seeking a first ranking title in six years, having last lifted silverware at the World Grand Prix back in 2017. Next up he faces a quarter-final clash with Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham this evening, who edged out former European Masters winner Jimmy Robertson 5-4.
Leading 2-1, Hawkins composed a fine break of 70 to head into the mid-session interval with a commanding 3-1 advantage this afternoon. However, when play resumed, Brecel responded by taking the fifth and sixth frames to restore parity at 3-3. The Crucible king then made it three on the bounce to move just a frame from victory at 4-3.
Hawkins showed his class with a stunning 133 to force a decider, where both players spurned opportunities for victory. Eventually the Londoner got himself over the line and wrapped up a 5-4 win.
Defeat left Brecel disappointed to miss out on the world number one spot. However, that blow was softened after finding out the cue he won the World Championship had been found, after it was lost on a recent flight from Seattle to Frankfurt.
“Missing world number one and the chance to get a trophy was quite disappointing. I think it would have been quite gettable. It wasn’t to be,” said four-time ranking event winner Brecel.
“It was surprising that after ten days I have got my cue back. It is going to be delivered to my home. That is good news. With this cue it is no fun, it would have been a horrible season for me so I’m glad I’ve got the old one back.”
Mark Selby secured his place in the last eight with a 5-2 win over Ashley Hugill. The four-time World Champion composed breaks of 69, 84, 60,103 and 68 on his way to the win. He now plays China’s Lyu Haotian, who thrashed David Gilbert 5-1.