Barry Hawkins preserved his 100 percent record against Shaun Murphy at the Cazoo Masters, scoring a comfortable 6-2 win to reach the quarter-finals.
Hawkins and Murphy have met on three occasions at Alexandra Palace, each time in the opening round. The Hawk was victorious by a 6-1 scoreline in 2017 and also won 6-2 in 2019.
Although Hawkins holds the edge over Murphy at the Masters, he still trails the 2005 World Champion 10-4 in the head-to-head standings.
Londoner Hawkins missed out on the Masters 12 months ago, after dropping out of the world’s top 16. However, an impressive return to form in 2021 saw him reach four ranking event semi-finals, including the Cazoo UK Championship before Christmas, to return to the sport’s top tier.
By contrast Murphy has struggled to find his form this season, despite being World Championship runner-up at the end of the previous campaign. The Magician failed to secure his place in the top 32 of the one-year list before Christmas and as a result missed out on the Cazoo World Grand Prix. He now heads to Berlin later this month for the German Masters.
Hawkins took the opener this evening with a break of 65, before Murphy restored parity with a run of 69 to make it 1-1. Murphy then hit the front by winning the third and Hawkins claimed the fourth to head into the mid-session all-square at 2-2.
When play resumed 2015 Masters winner Murphy looked to be in a strong position to regain the lead. He was 54-4 in front when he missed a pink to the right middle. That cost him dearly, with Hawkins compiling a run of 60 to take the frame on the final pink.
That was the moment the Hawk pounced at the winning line. A further three on the bounce followed, including breaks of 103 and 69, to wrap up the 6-2 victory. He now faces the winner of Mark Selby and Stephen Maguire in the quarter-finals.
“Most of the season I feel like I’ve struggled to find rhythm or flow. I just tried to go out there and play my natural game tonight. I was going for the first shot I saw and upped the tempo. That is what worked in the end and I felt good in myself,” said 42-year-old Hawkins.
“I played well tonight and I’ve played well before here. Maybe it is just the occasion. It is a local tournament and a massive occasion. Sometimes I get up for it more than I do the other events. Shaun is a great player, I can’t see why I do well against him here but his head-to-head is 10-4. I just seem to have it on him here really.
“I think everyone is happy to be out and seeing live sport. There is no better feeling than playing well in front of a packed crowd on a big occasion. Playing behind closed doors was quite demoralising. I should imagine that was the same for every sport. You need the fans in for sport or it doesn’t work.”
Murphy said: “After the interval I thought he played like a possible winner of the tournament. He was very very good and he doesn’t make many mistakes. Losing the fourth and fifth frames took the wind out of my sails and in the end he picked me off.”