Hawkins lost his first five matches at the Crucible but has since thrived at the venue
Barry Hawkins reached the semi-finals of the Betfred World Championship for the third year in a row with a superb 13-12 win over Neil Robertson.
A high quality contest featured eight centuries and nine more breaks over 50 in the 25 frames, but in the end it was world number five Hawkins who held his nerve in the deciding frame to set up a semi-final meeting with Shaun Murphy.
Kent-based Hawkins was runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Crucible in 2013 and lost to the same player in the semis last year. He has had a relatively poor season, but once again has found inspiration in Sheffield and proved he has the all-round game and calmness under pressure required on this stage.
Australia’s Robertson, the 2010 champion, trailed 8-7 going into the final session then immediately levelled with a fantastic 141 total clearance. Hawkins responded with back-to-back centuries, 108 and 104, to lead 10-8. The barrage of scoring continued has Robertson knocked in 90, 65 and 142 to lead 11-10, then Hawkins replied with 109 and 76 to fo 12-11 up. Robertson got the better of frame 24 to force the decider.
Both players had chances early on, but the decisive moment came when Robertson, with ball in hand, missed a mid-range red to a top corner. Two-time ranking event winner Hawkins seized his opportunity with a cool 61 to earn his spot in the last four.
“It was always going to be 13-12,” said Hawkins. “It was a really good standard. He kept banging in 140s for fun and I thought I’d missed the boat when I was 7-3 up and he was on the ropes. He got back to 7-7 but then I won the last frame of the session, which lasted 70 minutes, so I still had my nose in front.
“Tonight I played pretty well and I’m just so delighted to get through. I managed to hold myself together in the end and make a decent break.”
Robertson said: “It was a match where I seemed to pull him along, it was such a high standard. Whenever I made a mistake he was making centuries. Whenever I put him under pressure, you have to give him a lot of credit for the way he responded.”