Last year’s runner-up Barry Hawkins crushed Shaun Murphy 6-1 in the first round of the Dafabet Masters at Alexandra Palace.
Murphy won this title two years ago but was barely in the match this time as his opponent dominated and stormed into the quarter-finals. In-form Hawkins, who won a group in the Championship League last week, goes through to face Mark Selby on Friday afternoon (tickets still available – click here for details).
World number 12 Hawkins clearly enjoys playing at this venue as he enjoyed a superb run to the final last year – albeit one which ended with a 10-1 defeat against Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Londoner Hawkins won a scrappy opening frame tonight then took the second with a break of 79. Murphy had a chance to win the third from 64-0 down, but missed a tough last red to a baulk corner on 36, and that proved costly as his opponent went 3-0 ahead.
Lett-hander Hawkins made smooth runs of 89 and 85 to extend his lead to 5-0. Murphy pulled one back with a thumping long pot on the final pink in frame six. But his hopes of a fight back were soon quashed as Hawkins secured victory in the next with a break of 50.
“I’m really pleased with that,” said Hawkins. “I played well throughout the match, and didn’t give Shaun any easy chances. He missed a couple which is uncharacteristic but overall, I got off to a good start and got him on the back foot straight away.
“I was expecting a tough game. Shaun’s a great player, but to beat him 6-1 at the Masters is a great result. I didn’t see that coming. I knew I was playing ok so I knew if I got off to a good start and played some good safety then I’d get some opportunities.
“I wasn’t thinking about last year coming in. You just turn up wanting to play well and hopefully have another good run because it’s such a good tournament to be involved in. It’s pride in performance, you want to put on a good show. People are paying money to come and see you so you want to play well.
“It doesn’t get any easier playing Mark Selby. He’s full of confidence, the best player in the world at the moment. When I come out and play him on Friday, I’m going to have to be on top of my game again. I’ll need an inspired performance. It’s a massive occasion for me and I’m looking forward to it.”