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Barry Hawkins reaches UK Championship fourth round with a 6-3 win over Robert Milkins

Barry Hawkins hailed his best performance of the season and had a message for potential fourth round opponent and ‘animal’ Mark Selby – get ready for a scrap.

The Ditton potter reached the last 16 of the UK Championship for just the second time since 2013 after a polished 6-3 win over world No.51 Robert Milkins in Milton Keynes.

Barry Hawkins Picture: World Snooker (40107378)
Barry Hawkins Picture: World Snooker (40107378)

World No.21 Hawkins will face either good friend Selby, or Hossein Vafaei, in the last 16 and says cordial relations with the three-time world champion will be put to one side on the Marshall Arena baize.

“That was probably the best performance of my season so far. I’m really pleased and I was happy to finish it off,” said Hawkins, 41.

“It’s always tough and not nice playing good friends, but we’ve played each other lots over the years now, so we’re quite used to it.

“He’ll be trying to bury me if it is him on the table, don’t worry about that. The geezer’s an animal! There won’t be any love lost when we’re on the table – he’ll be trying beat me just as much as I’m trying to beat him.

“He hasn’t won all those tournaments from being soft on the table, that’s for sure. Off the table we’ll always have a laugh but when you get on the table, it’s business head on and both trying to win.

“He’s been in great form since the World Championship – I think he’s turned a corner and if it wasn’t for a superhuman performance in that semi-final against Ronnie, he probably would have been in the final and gone on to win it.

“When he gets to the final he’s a machine. He could have had another World Championship under his belt.”

Selby, also a two-time UK champion, went down in a 17-16 thriller against Ronnie O’Sullivan in this year’s Crucible semi-final and has been in consistent form at the start of the season.

But so has 2013 Sheffield finalist Hawkins, who struck a magical 147 break at the 2019 UK Championship and knocked in visits of 122, 83 and 80 to down Milkins in this year’s last 32.

Hawkins, who also made three further half-centuries against Milkins, reached the fourth round of the English Open in October and is bidding to halt a turbulent couple of years on the snooker circuit.

A gruelling fitness regime is fuelling his rise and Hawkins, who reached the final of the UK Championship back in 2013, hopes achieving tip-top condition away from the table can help him emulate that run.

“I’m trying to get out all the time, get about walking and on the bike when I’m at home a bit,” he added.

“Just try and do anything that helps me start playing well again. It’s especially important when you’re in lockdown as well – it’s horrible being stuck indoors so it’s nice to get out.

“Being in this venue there’s not much you can do, so getting out for an hour or two a day is good.”

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