Barry Hawkins is through to the eighth ranking final of his career after a comfortable 6-2 defeat of Ricky Walden at the Cazoo Players Championship in Wolverhampton.
The Hawk is enjoying a stellar season in the big events, having made the semi-finals of the Cazoo UK Championship, the final of the Cazoo Masters and now another title match this week.
Hawkins’ run to the Masters final included a stunning 6-5 defeat of 2019 World Champion Judd Trump in the semis, before being denied the title by Neil Robertson. He could face a rematch in this week’s showpiece, with the Australian taking on Jimmy Robertson in the other semi-final.
Londoner Hawkins is aiming for a first piece of ranking silverware in five years. He won the last of his three ranking crowns thus far at the 2017 World Grand Prix, where he defeated Ryan Day in the final. The 2013 Crucible finalist will be hoping this weekend sees him up his conversion ratio, having now appeared in 28 ranking event semi-finals.
Walden’s quest for a first title since the 2014 International Championship goes on. However, the Chester cueman leaves Wolverhampton in the knowledge that he is displaying his best form in several years. Walden has also appeared in semi-finals at the Northern Ireland Open and the German Masters this season.
It was Walden who claimed the opener this evening, thanks to a break of 69. He had looked like doubling his advantage when he fired in a contribution of 60 in the second, but Hawkins countered and produced a clearance of 42 to steal on the black. He then added the third and fourth frames to lead 3-1 at the mid-session.
Walden remained in touch after the resumption, a run of 54 saw him over the line in the fifth frame. However, that would be his final frame of the evening. Breaks of 115, 61 and 75 saw Hawkins claim three on the bounce and run out a 6-3 victor.
“It’s a bit of a dream come true really. If somebody said at the turn of the year I’d reach two finals, I would never have believed them. To be in another big final is really pleasing,” said 42-year-old Hawkins.
“It would mean a hell of a lot to win on Sunday. Even just getting to the final is amazing, but if I can get out there and play like I did towards the end of the match this evening then I’ve got a chance. I’m under no illusions that I’ve got to go out there and produce the goods though.
“I lost a few semi-finals last year, including one I maybe let get away from me against Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Tour Championship. They are tough ones to take because these opportunities don’t come around that often. When you get these chances to win you have to step up and take them. It will be tough, but hopefully I can do it on Sunday.”
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