Barry Hawkins knocked World and UK Champion Mark Selby out of the Dafabet Masters, winning 6-3 to reach the semi-finals at Alexandra Palace.
Selby had come to London with the chance to become only the fifth player – after Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins and Mark Williams – to hold all three Triple Crown titles simultaneously.
But that dream is now over as the world number one was outplayed by 11th seed Hawkins. London’s 37-year-old Hawkins, who reached the final last year before losing 10-1 to Ronnie O’Sullivan, goes through to the last four to face Ding Junhui or Joe Perry on Saturday evening.
The opening frame today lasted 41 minutes and Hawkins won it after getting the better of safety battles on the yellow and green. Selby levelled with a break of 76 before Hawkins took the next two frames with 63 and 60 to lead 3-1 at the interval.
Selby came from 62-0 down to win frame five with an excellent 71 clearance, only for Hawkins to regain the momentum by dominating the sixth for 4-2. A run of 101 from Selby saw him halve his deficit, but he didn’t score a point in frame eight as Hawkins took it with 49 and 36.
Hawkins led 60-38 in the ninth when he missed a tricky pot on the last red along a side cushion. Selby had a chance to clear but missed the brown to a baulk corner. And a loose safety from Selby proved his final shot as Hawkins cleared for victory.
“I was quietly confident, but you can’t be too confident going in against the world number one,” said two-time ranking event winner Hawkins. “I feel happy with my game at the moment. I knew I had to play well to have any chance of winning. I was pleased the way I stayed strong out there today.
“If I can take anything from that game it was the way I bounced back after losing a couple of sore ones. He nicked one from 60 behind and then I missed a black off the spot at 4-2 and he made a century. That was quite tough but I was pleased with the way I came back.
“It’s up there with one of my best ever wins, along with beating Ronnie at the Crucible. Selby’s been a machine over the last few years. If you’re going to beat him, you have to play well. Even when I was 5-3 up, I wasn’t getting carried away because he’s come back so many times before. It’s one of the best wins of my career for sure and I’m in the semi-final of another major which is great, so I want to keep on going.
“Last year’s Masters was a great experience, apart from the final. But they are great memories and I played some good stuff. Hopefully I can get to the final and show up a little bit better than I did then.
The ‘Selby Slam’ dream is over
“It always hurts whenever you lose but to lose 10-1 – I felt a bit demoralised. I was gone in the end, it’s a horrible place to be. I’ve definitely learnt from that.”
Selby said: “I wasn’t thinking about the Triple Crown titles. I was just going out there to win a game of snooker. But every credit to Barry, he punished me every time he got a chance.
“I’ve had a great start to the season. Even though I’ve lost today, I still feel my form’s there so I’m not too disappointed. At the same time, it would have been nice to win and give myself the chance to try and hold all three at the same time. You’ve got to lose at some stage I suppose.”