Seventh seed Barry Hawkins avoided a shock defeat at the Betway UK Championship, beating amateur Andy Hicks 6-5 on the final black in a dramatic finish.
Two-time ranking event winner Hawkins lost 6-5 to Nigel Bond here in York last year after squandering a 5-0 lead, and he came so close to another early exit.
Hicks, a former World, UK and Master semi-finalist who dropped off the tour in 2012, held leads of 3-1 and 5-4, knocking in breaks of 86, 64 and 94. A run of 80 from Hawkins, his highest of the match, forced a decider. Devon’s Hicks led for most of it and had several chances, but couldn’t past the finish line and it came down to the colours.
Hicks was 25 points ahead when he potted the final yellow to a top corner, only for the cue ball to drop into a middle pocket. Hawkins took yellow, green, brown and blue, and later converted an excellent long pink before adding the black for victory.
“I can’t believe I have won,” said the 2013 World Championship finalist. “Andy was desperately unlucky in the last frame. He potted a lot of good reds but didn’t land on a colour. It seemed as if I was destined to win. I potted some good balls under pressure in the end. He’s an amateur but he’s dangerous and at the start he wasn’t missing anything. I have definitely used my get out of jail free card.
“I want to do well in these big events so I would have been fuming if I had lost.”