Barry Hawkins believes a return to former glories could be around the corner, with the Ditton potter crediting a healthier lifestyle with a return to form after his first-round victory at the UK Championship.
The world No.21 has endured a tough few years on the baize and reached just two ranking quarter-finals last season - a far cry from the heights he hit earlier in his career.
A former World Championship and Masters runner-up, Hawkins has spent more time exercising and alleviating stress during 2020, and he is confident the change in attitude has helped his performances in the snooker arena.
Hawkins dominated his clash against youngster Riley Parsons - who withdrew from last week’s Northern Ireland Open after testing positive for Covid-19 - and he hopes there is more to come after an emphatic 6-1 win.
“During lockdown everyone started doing different things and getting out more, and I’ve been getting out on my bike at home, trying to keep fit and relieve the stress as well as practising hard.
“I’ve been I’m doing the right things, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to win matches and do well in tournaments.
“I feel my game’s coming. I’ve been practising hard and trying to do the right things. I just want to string a few runs together, but it’s difficult when you come up against people who play well against you.
“I just need to need to get my confidence up and start playing well against good players, because I haven’t done that for a while.”
Hawkins edged a scrappy opening frame against world No.113 Parsons before notching three successive half-centuries to take a 4-0 lead into the interval in Milton Keynes, where the first Triple Crown event of the season is being held due to Covid-19 restrictions.
And after polishing the game off with two further breaks over 50 after Parsons had taken the fifth frame, Hawkins is hopeful of plenty more table time at the Marshall Arena over the next two weeks.
He added: “It was a bit scrappy at the start, we both had a few opportunities and squandered them.
“I think he struggled - I imagine he hasn’t practised that much in the last couple of weeks after testing positive for Covid-19.
“I finished the match strongly and I felt like I was cueing OK. In spells of practice, I’ve played as well as I have done in a long time, and now it’s just about bringing it out on the match table.”
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