Published: 00:00, 27 April 2014
| Updated: 10:08, 27 April 2014
Thw win wasn’t pretty but Barry Hawkins was just relieved to have emerged unscathed after besting Ricky Walden in another gruelling encounter at the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield, writes Chris Bailey.
The pair were a bundle of nerves when they met at the semi-final stage 12 months ago and history repeated itself in the last 16 this time as the Ditton cueman slogged to a 13-11 victory.
And Hawkins, who fought back from 9-5 down at one stage in the second session, believes Walden’s memories of last year’s slip-up handed him the mental edge when the going got tough.
“I don’t know how much more I can take of that at this place – grinding out matches like that – it takes so much out of you,” said 35-year-old Hawkins.
“Ricky and I seem to bring the worst out of each other; it’s just an absolute battle from start to finish. I managed to pot a few balls towards the end but even then I seem to make hard work of it.
“I’m over the moon to get through and have got a few days to relax so hopefully I can play my best snooker.
“At 9-5 down I was gone to be honest but I managed to say to myself ‘come on, a bit more effort’ and I managed to win the last two frames. I felt like I’d won the session.
“Especially from 9-5 down I was thinking if I can come back at him, maybe the faults will come back from last year when I was 12-8 down.
“When someone comes back at you from such a big lead it is not a nice place sometimes, so I thought I’ll try and keep him under pressure.”
Hawkins is likely to be installed as the bookies’ favourite in his quarter-final clash with either Dominic Dale or Michael Wasley, who both had to qualify to reach Sheffield.
But the World No.4, who won the PTC Grand Finals a month ago, is not taking anything for granted as far as the Crucible’s 17-day marathon is concerned.
“I don’t care who I’ve got, I’m just happy to be in the tournament still,” added Hawkins. “I’m probably [favourite] after winning my last tournament and getting to the final last year.
“But I’ve got to up my game definitely – especially after that match. I can play like that sometimes but it’s just the determination that gets you through.”
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