Barry Hawkins
Barry Hawkins reached his first ranking event final by beating good friend Mark Davis 6-4 in an enthralling match in the Australian Goldfields Open.

 

By Matt Rich

 

The Shoot-out champ will face veteran potter Peter Ebdon, who will be going for his tenth ranking crown, tomorrow.

 

The semi-final started well for the Dartford man who went got to the interval with a 3-1 lead helped by two breaks of 55, one of those under pressure in the third at 61-8 down, and a 91 in the fourth.

 

Davis though, also playing to get to his first final, came out of the break recharged, a 98 and a 93 levelled the match at 3-3. Hawkins took the seventh before the Sussex cueman had the packed crowd on their feet, again restoring parity with a 66.

 

But the evening belonged to the Hawk, who took the next two frames, and the match, scoring breaks of 67 and an excellent 74. It was a bitter-sweet moment for Davis, falling at the penultimate fence but seeing his pal reach the last two in Bendigo.

 

"I feel a bit numb at the moment," said Hawkins. "I feel like my head's spinning, but it feels quite good to be in a final, I think. I haven't had time to let it sink in yet but I'm just pleased about the way I played in the end. Obviously I said I struggled earlier on in the week, but I played a good match yesterday against Matt Selt so my form was coming. Then tonight I played a bit better I think so hopefully I can save the best until last and win it.

 

"I think the biggest turning point was when I won the third frame. Mark should have won that, I was 50 odd behind and he got a kick on a red with four reds left and I made a good clearance. That could have set the tone for the match because he was just getting into his stride. I don't think we missed much between us, we missed a couple of balls each here and there but apart from that I think the standard was pretty good.

 

"Going into the final against Peter Ebdon, it can't get much tougher to be honest, he just doesn't give in, he doesn't give anything less than 100 per cent on every shot. I'm definitely going to have to be at the top of my form, I know what I have got to do and hopefully I can produce on the day."

 

A dejected but magnanimous Davis said: "I'm gutted at the moment, I really fancied winning the tournament the way I was playing and the way it was going and I'm obviously very disappointed. I didn't play badly, I missed a couple of balls that I should have got. My safety let me down, my safety just wasn't good enough, all the way through the game. He played well, his breaks were quite tough a lot of them. The last one was one of the only ones where the balls were open and even then he was doing it to win the match. I think he deserved it in the end but obviously I'm very disappointed.

 

"Playing a friend in a semi-final, I tried to treat it like another game. I didn't win but obviously I'm over the moon that Barry is in the final, he's a great mate of mine and he's a great lad."

 

Of his form over the last few weeks, he continued: "If you had offered me this before I set out on the trip a month ago I would have bitten your hand off. Two semi-finals and a win in the Six Reds, I think anyone would take that, anyone in the world. I'm disappointed with it because I fancied winning the tournament, you could say the draw opened up but I don't necessarily agree with that, everyone's there to be beaten if you're playing well enough. I'm a little bit gutted, but when I get back and think about the last four weeks I'm going to be over the moon."