Barry Hawkins reached his third Cazoo Masters semi-final after thrashing World Champion Mark Selby 6-1 at Alexandra Palace.
Londoner Hawkins has now won both of his Masters meetings with close friend Selby, having also beaten him 6-3 in the 2017 quarter-finals. The head-to-head record between the pair now stands at 11-9 to Selby.
Hawkins first qualified for snooker’s most prestigious invitational event in 2007. However, he failed to win a match in his first five Masters appearances. Hawkins emphatically rectified that in 2016, when he progressed all the way to the final, where he was comfortably defeated Ronnie O’Sullivan. He also reached the last four in 2017, losing out to Joe Perry.
Hawkins now faces world number two Judd Trump tomorrow night for a place in this year’s title match. The Hawk will be hoping he can land a maiden Triple Crown title this weekend, having also been runner-up to O’Sullivan at the World Championship in 2013.
World number one Selby is a three-time Masters winner but his recent woes at Alexandra Palace continue. The Jester from Leicester hasn’t been beyond the quarter-finals since he reached the final in 2014, when he was runner-up to O’Sullivan. Selby hasn’t won this event since 2013.
When play got underway this evening Hawkins hit the front immediately by taking the opener with a break of 58. He then landed an important early blow by taking the second on the black, after requiring a snooker, to lead 2-0. Selby closed the gap, but it was Hawkins who took the fourth to head into the mid-session 3-1 ahead.
Upon the resumption it was Hawkins who stretched his lead further by firing in a run of 65 to extend his cushion. Hawkins then pulled within a frame of victory after pouncing on what proved to be a critical mistake from his opponent. Selby missed a straightforward red whilst leading 56-0 with the balls in difficult positions. Hawkins recovered to take the frame on the pink and move 5-1 up.
Selby is famed for never giving up and mounting unlikely fightbacks, but nothing transpired on this occasion. World number 10 Hawkins closed out the match by winning the seventh frame to secure a momentous 6-1 win.
“I can’t believe I’ve won 6-1. It was a strange sort of match,” said 42-year-old Hawkins. “It is difficult, in a tournament like this you expect him to play well. When a few extra chances come along it is a bit of a shock to the system. It is hard to get the mindset right and not get too carried away.
“I was shaking like a leaf in the first frame or two. The nerves were going mad and it was quite hard to settle down. The reception I got in the end was unbelievable. I want the family to come across tomorrow now so they can soak that atmosphere up tomorrow and see what it is like.
“You just have to go out there, play your game, be confident and have the belief. I’ve beaten Judd before so I know what I have to do. I just have to go out there and play well. There is no getting away from the fact he is confident and will be fancying the job. If I can play well tomorrow then I have a chance to win.”
Selby said: “It was pathetic from start to finish. I carried on the way I did against Stephen Maguire in the first round. I felt he was the better player in that game as well, but I kept pinching the scrappy frames. I clung on. Barry didn’t have to play fantastically to beat me. I laid down and rolled over. It is disappointing.
“I’d love Barry to go on and pick up the trophy at the end of the week. I’ll be rooting for him tomorrow and tuning in. I wish him all the best.”