Barry Hawkins came through a marathon seven-hour battle against Stuart Carrington, winning 10-7 to reach the second round of the Betfred World Championship.
Hawkins turned 39 today though he had just 18 minutes to celebrate his birthday after finishing a late night clash at 11.42pm. But the world number six was relieved to reach the last 16, where he will face Lyu Haotian.
Londoner Hawkins has been one of the Crucible’s most consistent performers in recent years, reaching the final in 2013 and three other semi-finals. He has also shown impressive form in the past two months having got to the final of the Welsh Open and China Open, and while he wasn’t at his best against world number 56 Carrington, the result will add to his momentum.
Hawkins led 5-3 after the first session and soon extended his advantage to 7-3 tonight with breaks of 66 and 82. Carrington hit back with three frames in a row, compiling runs of 79 and 74, before Hawkins won an epic 56-minute 14th frame on the colours to lead 8-6.
Carrington took frame 15 and had first chance in the 16th, but could only make 27 and his opponent countered with 79 to go 9-7 up. Hawkins made 35 early in the next, and when Carrington missed a black off its spot, he added 38 to seal the victory.
“I’m knackered, but at least I’ve got a few days off now,” said three-time ranking event winner Hawkins. “To be honest, I don’t care how I play as long as I win. Plenty of people in the past have played really badly in the first couple of rounds and gone on to do really well and won it. For me it was just about getting through that first game.
“It’s a decent birthday present, and I’m still in the tournament. It was a battle, Stuart’s a tough player, he makes it hard for you. I was struggling with my game but I was pleased with my attitude. I stayed calm and having a bit more experience than him here definitely made a difference.
“I could see he wasn’t going to give up. I know he can score heavy when he gets going, he’s done it to a few players in the past. Luckily for me he kept missing a few and I managed to hold myself together at the end.”
Carrington said: “I was just trying to grind it out in the end because I was struggling that much. I made a bit of a match of it but I think that was down to Barry under-performing. At 7-6 it was anybody’s game, but I made mistakes in the end.”
Meanwhile, Ricky Walden took a 6-3 lead over 13th seed Luca Brecel in a match which plays to a finish on Tuesday afternoon.
Walden, a Crucible semi-finalist in 2013, went 2-0 up with a top break of 68. Frame three came down to a respotted black and Brecel fluked it to a centre pocket to halve his deficit.
Three-time ranking event winner Walden then knocked in runs of 105, 90, 74 and 76 to take four of the next five frames and go 6-2 ahead. Belgium’s Brecel took the last of the session with an 89 to trail by three overnight.