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Home Maidstone Sport Article
Birthday boy Barry Hawkins started his celebrations late at the Crucible after the Ditton potter admitted he forgot about his big day before finishing off David Gilbert in the first round.
Hawkins, 35 today, is vying to reach another World Snooker Championship final in Sheffield after losing to five-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan 12 months ago.
And after heading into Wednesday with a 5-4 lead, the world no.4 cruised through the next five frames to dump out Gilbert and book a second-round date with Ricky Walden.
Such was the occasion that Hawkins’ birthday slipped his mind – before unwittingly handing himself a present by calming his early flutter of nerves.
"I forgot it’s my birthday, that’s a nice little present to get," said Hawkins. "I’m through to the first round and I played pretty well I thought. I’m delighted to get through – I feel like I’m in the tournament now.
"I didn’t even think about it. When I woke up I got a few text messages and opened my birthday cards, but I forgot all about it because of the match and stuff.
"I’ll go for a nice little birthday meal now I think, I won’t celebrate too much but hopefully a little bit.
"I struggled early doors, the first four frames especially I felt all over the place. But I stuck with it and finished off strongly in the first session and was over the moon to lead 5-4.
"I was quite confident coming that I’d play well and I managed to do that.
"Because of the nerves I wasn’t get my cueing right but the longer you’re out there the more you settle and the experience last year helped me."
Joining him for a quick birthday tipple could be close friend Walden, who he trumped in the last four in 2013 to earn his spot in the final.
World no.10 Walden currently holds the bragging rights after his first round Masters victory in January – and Hawkins expects a thrilling best-of-25 battle when play starts on Friday.
"Ricky’s a great player and I class him as a good friend as well,” added Hawkins. “We know each other really well now and have been out for drinks together and stuff, so we know each other’s game now.
"It’ll be a great game and free-flowing hopefully, not too much tactical play and a few big breaks.
"I think he’s after some revenge but I’m due a bit after the Masters. We’ll try our hardest, there’ll be a bit of banter I suppose, but he’ll be desperate to beat me and likewise as well."
British Eurosport is the Home of Snooker, showing 19 tournaments per season including the World Championship, UK Championship the Masters and all other ranking events. Available on Sky, Virgin Media & BT TV or online/mobile via eurosportplayer.com #eurosportsnooker
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