Published: 00:00, 30 April 2014
| Updated: 08:12, 30 April 2014
Barry Hawkins took a huge step towards another Crucible clash with Ronnie O’Sullivan after cruising to a 11-5 lead against Dominic Dale in the quarter-finals in Sheffield.
Ditton potter Hawkins, who lost to O’Sullivan in last year’s World Snooker Championship final, needs just two more frames in the third and final session to book his place in the semis.
And he could land his chance to avenge defeat against O’Sullivan on Thursday, who currently holds a four-frame advantage over world No.5 Shaun Murphy in his own quarter-final.
Hawkins proved why he is world No.4 for a reason from the start against Dale, building a break of 68 to snare the opening frame.
Dale then spurned a glorious opportunity, totting up 31 before running out of position – allowing Hawkins back in to snatch a further frame with runs of 63 and 28.
The pair continued to score in chunks in a fast-paced contest, world No.24 Dale hitting back in two visits of 33 and 36 to put himself on the scoreboard.
However Hawkins, who won the PTC Grand Finals last month, continued to build an imposing lead either side of the mid-session interval with 78 and 81 breaks respectively.
Dale then nosed a scrappy encounter – Hawkins fouling twice on the cue ball – but once more failed to capitalise in the penultimate frame after an opening break of 47.
Hawkins then soared to a stunning 134 to wrap up the morning’s play – but Dale initially started the evening full of promise, running in 69 to reduce the arrears to three.
But Hawkins again counter-punched, making the most of his chances in low-scoring visits as Dale struggled to reach double figures on his turns.
And the world No.4 continued to up the tempo with contributions of 92 and 88, as Dale hung in there by edging a close frame in between.
A break of 61 – his highest of the night – brought Dale back to within five but arguably the Welshman needed the evening’s final frame to retain any hope of a first-ever Crucible semi-final appearance.
And he was on the cusp of doing so after sinking an opening 53 – only to run out of position and allow Hawkins to clear up for 67, and in all likelihood, the match.
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