Published: 08:00, 23 April 2014
| Updated: 08:17, 23 April 2014
Barry Hawkins’ hunt for another World Snooker Championship final started on track after he recovered to take a 5-4 lead going into the second session against qualifier David Gilbert in Sheffield.
The Ditton potter was behind until the closing frame on Tuesday after snaring three in quick succession and will resume play on Wednesday in the best-of-19 first-round clash.
The World No.4 will have to go some way in matching his run to the World Championship final at the Crucible last year, where he lost to eventual five-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.
And he started slowly on his return to the famous tables by swapping low-scoring visits with Gilbert, who posted a decisive 26 to open up an early lead.
And the world No.31 made a fluid 77 to double his advantage, before Hawkins tied him up in knots with three snookers to claw a frame back.
Gilbert, whose best result this season is a third-round finish in the Wuxi Classic, then went 3-1 to the good at the mid-session interval after another tactical battle.
And the match continued in tit-for-tat fashion upon the resumption, Hawkins building a decisive break of 72 only for Gilbert to restore his lead to two frames with a final visit of 56.
However Hawkins – appearing at the Crucible for the ninth time – started playing to the form that saw him clinch the PTC Grand Final last month.
He made runs of 72 and a wonderful 115 to tie the scores, before nosing ahead for the first time in the final frame of the session – making 80 as Gilbert went scoreless.
Should Hawkins wrap up a victory on Wednesday he will set up a potential clash with his semi-final opponent last year in Ricky Walden, who holds a 6-3 lead over Kyren Wilson.
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