Published: 09:26, 07 May 2018
| Updated: 09:45, 07 May 2018
Barry Hawkins may be out of the World Championship, but two golden oldies have given him hope of lifting the title.
At 39, Hawkins’ 17-15 semi-final defeat – the fifth time the Ditton cueman has reached that stage at the Crucible in the last six years – to Mark Williams felt like one of his last opportunities to wear the crown of world champion slipping away.
Yet Williams is 43, while his opponent in the showpiece, John Higgins, is 42 and with another 42-year-old in Ronnie O’Sullivan having won five ranking events this term, snooker is becoming a veteran’s game.
So while the gruelling nature of his latest defeat will take some time to recover from, Hawkins has reasons for optimism.
“It does feel like an opportunity slipped away,” he said. “I would’ve had to face John Higgins in the final, so I would have had to play out of my skin to win I suppose.
“I played pretty well most of the tournament and I fancied making the final but I let myself down in the last session against Mark. It’s not a nice way to go out in the end but I’ve had a good tournament.
“It’s good to see they’re both still going strong – Mark at 43 and John in his 40s as well. There is still hope for me!
“They are two legends of the sport and it should be a great final seeing them battling it out against each other. I wouldn’t like to call a winner.”
Hawkins led Williams for almost the entire match – racking up 5-3, 9-7 and 13-11 advantages at the conclusion of each of the first three sessions.
The Welshman only took the lead for the first time at 16-15 before pinching the longest frame of the match in the next to get over the line at almost midnight on Saturday evening.
It was a marathon befitting the World Championship stage and Hawkins admits he could barely hold a cue as the quality started to drop in the final few frames.
“It was brutal. We were both twitching all over the place – there’s no other way to describe it, really,” added Hawkins.
“I was quite calm but then your mind just starts playing tricks with you, you start second-guessing where you’re aiming and all sorts.
“I felt good at 15-14 ahead and I was in the balls but then I took my eye off a red and started twitching everything after that.
“Mark always hangs in there – I scored better than he did but he played a lot of clever shots and good safeties.
“He potted good, long balls and battled away like he does because he’s a class player, one of the all-time greats. It was an enjoyable match but not an enjoyable way to lose.”
Watch the snooker World Championship LIVE on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with Colin Murray and analysis from Ronnie O’Sullivan, Jimmy White and Neal Foulds.
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