Hawkins hasn’t reached a ranking event semi-final since June
Barry Hawkins won the last five frames to beat Mark Allen 13-11 and reach the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship.
Something of a Crucible specialist having reached the final in 2013 and the semis last year, Hawkins came good at the business end as he overturned an 11-8 deficit to set up a match with Neil Robertson or Ali Carter.
Two-time ranking event winner Hawkins has suffered a series of early exits from tournaments in recent months, but looks to have found inspiration in Sheffield’s unique atmosphere once again.
“I seem to win that kind of match a lot here, I don’t know where it comes from,” said Ditton-based Hawkins. “I’m delighted to beat someone of Mark’s calibre. I felt I was getting stronger towards the end, but it was such a relief to pot the last ball.
“I’ve won my first two matches 10-9 and 13-11 and used up a lot of energy. Last year I was wiped out by the semi-finals so I might need to win my next match 13-0 to have a chance of going any further. I’ll need to play better in the next round, especially if it’s against Neil Robertson.”
A high quality contest featured five centuries and 12 more breaks over 50 in the 24 frames, and for much of it Allen looked the better player. The Northern Irishman led 9-7 going into the final session and extended his lead in the first frame tonight with a break of 81.
Hawkins pulled one back with a 50 before Allen’s 109 made it 11-8. In frame 20, Allen missed a blue and later lost a safety battle on the last red. Hawkins also got the better of a scrappy 21st frame to close to 11-10, then dominated the next to level the match.
World number five Hawkins then made a 102 to lead for the first time. In frame 22 both players missed chances and it came down to the colours. Hawkins potted green and brown to lead by 16 points, then played safe on the blue. Allen potted a long blue then attempted a tough pink, but it missed its target, travelled around the table and left Hawkins an easy pot to seal victory.
World number 12 Allen said: “From 11-9 he froze me out. I had half chances, but he played better than me. I lost the match in the first 20 frames because it should have been all over by then. I lost a big frame earlier today to go 10-6 rather than 9-7, and another one when I could have made it 12-8.
“The match summed up my season – in spells I was great but overall I came up short. It’s another season wasted because I know I’m better than that.
“The one disadvantage I’ve had is that Terry Griffiths has not been in my corner this season. People don’t realise how influential he is for me. He was working with Barry tonight and maybe if he had been in my dressing room at 11-9 it might have been different. But I’m back working with Terry next season which will be massive for me, and I promise you I’ll win a lot more tournaments.”
Five-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan recovered from a slow start to take a 5-3 lead over Matthew Stevens after the first session of their last 16 clash.
Welshman Stevens made an excellent colours clearance to take the opening frame, then made an 82 for 2-0. O’Sullivan looked frustrated in the third frame, striking his cue against the table after missing a red on 34. But he got back in and made an even 100, and that proved the turning point as he reeled off the next four frames.
Runs of 63, 61 and a superb 47 clearance put the Rocket 5-2 ahead, before Stevens took the last of the session with a 71. They return for eight more frames tomorrow at 2.30pm.
O’Sullivan lost to Stevens at the Welsh Open in February