Published: 00:00, 30 April 2014
| Updated: 21:58, 30 April 2014
Barry Hawkins punched the table in pure elation after finally landing a knockout blow to Dominic Dale’s sensational comeback attempt at the World Snooker Championship, writes Chris Bailey.
The Ditton potter looked home and dry heading into the third session 11-5 up but Welshman Dale launched a stunning turnaround by winning seven frames on the bounce.
Then Hawkins staged a rousing revival of his own at the famous Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, rattling in breaks of 66 and 69 before thumping the table repeatedly in joy.
“You have to release sometimes – not in disrespect to the other player – it just means so much," said a relieved Hawkins. “You can’t bottle it all the time – you have to let it out.
“It was an unbelievable match – I would have been devastated if I’d lost after such a big lead. But Dominic played so well to come back at me.
“I had a few chances but anything that could go wrong was going wrong. I’m pleased with the way I held myself together and showed a bit of bottle.
“I just kept telling that there was just two frames to play – try hard, see what happens. I felt pretty good and started cuing the ball better, and played some great stuff to win the match
“It’s a tough place to be when someone’s coming back at you. Dominic was playing some great safety and really keeping me off the table.”
It means world No.4 Hawkins will play Ronnie O’Sullivan, the man who defeated him in last year’s final, in the semi-finals starting on Thursday. The Rocket has cruised through the Crucible field so far, his latest scalp coming against Shaun Murphy in a silky 13-3 victory lasting just two sessions.
But Murphy, No.5 in the world, had his opportunities at 2-0 up against O’Sullivan – and Hawkins admits he needs to exploit any show of weakness against the five-time world champion to stand a chance.
“I’m really looking forward to playing Ronnie,” he added. “I have to take my chances. Shaun had plenty of chances and just didn’t convert them.
“I’ve had some great games against Ronnie – he’s played some unbelievable snooker to beat me in the world final last year and then the Welsh Open semi-final. I broke down on 60 or 70 a couple of times and he cleared up, but that will be forgotten about when I walk out against him.”
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