Ditton's Barry Hawkins begins his Crucible campaign against David Gilbert Picture: Andy Payton
Barry Hawkins will be out to go one better and take the World Championship title this time around.
The Ditton cueman opens his Crucible campaign against world No.31 David Gilbert on Tuesday and was the surprise package at last year’s championship, running Ronnie O’Sullivan close before losing an exciting final 18-12.
Hawkins, the world No.4, had been no further than the second round before and took home £125,000 for finishing runner-up.
He said: “The first five times I entered, I didn’t get past the first round – I just couldn’t win a match.
“It was a high-quality final. There weren’t many balls missed. Ronnie got about six centuries and I got a couple.
“Playing Ronnie made it extra special and it’s something you can tell your grandchildren. Ronnie, for me, is the best player ever.”
Hawkins goes into the event in good form after pocketing £100,000 and the Players Championship in Preston with a 4-0 win over friend and practice partner Gerard Greene.
He has been benefiting from the training he gets off Terry Griffiths, winner of the World Championship in 1979.
He said: “I’ll be trying my best to get to the final again but everyone there is a quality player and it’s tough. You can easily go out in the first round.
“Terry has been helping out with a few technical things and I’ve also worked on my mental side. Over the last four or five years, I have been pretty consistent.”