Barry Hawkins put on an incredible display of break building, making four centuries, to open up a commanding 6-3 lead over Ryan Day in the final of the Ladbrokes World Grand Prix in Preston.
Hawkins was on the receiving end of a barrage of centuries at the UK Championship, where Fergal O’Brien made five tons to defeat him 6-5. However, it was the Hawk applying the pressure this afternoon. With a session to spare he’s three century breaks away from emulating Stephen Hendry, who made seven at the Guild Hall in the 1994 UK Championship final.
A maiden ranking win for Day would hold significance beyond the emotions of claiming his first title. It would ensure his place in the Players Championship and Champion of Champions, whilst forcing him into the top 16 as he bids to qualify directly for the World Championship.
Hawkins took the opening frame this afternoon and had looked set to snatch the second, before a missed red down the bottom cushion. The two-time ranking event winner made the first of his century breaks to take the third frame, compiling a run of 114. He then crafted a break of 102 to double his advantage at the interval with the score at 3-1.
The Welshman won a scrappy first frame back, but Hawkins was soon at it again. He put together a run of 129 to lead 4-2.
Despite struggling against an inspired opponent, Day emerges from the session with hope, having secured three frames. He took the seventh, where he made a contribution of 54.
However, the Hawk wasn’t going to accept being contained. He provided more savage scoring in the final two frames of the session to lead by three. The 37-year-old produced with a stunning 141 break in the eighth frame and was on the verge of a remarkable fifth century, but couldn’t negotiate a tough final red positioned on the bottom cushion, ending his run on 97.
Both players will maintain ambitions of picking up the £100,000 top prize this evening. Hawkins needs a further four frames tonight, with Day requiring seven for the title. Play will resume at 7pm.