Crucible specialist Barry Hawkins stormed past world number 28 Li Hang 10-1 with a relentless display in the opening round of the Betfred World Championship.
Despite being runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan at the 2018 Shanghai Masters, it has been a modest season so far for Hawkins. However, he arrives at the Crucible with the knowledge that he has won more matches than any other player at snooker’s Theatre of Dreams over the last six years. 2013 finalist Hawkins has now clocked up 19 match wins in Sheffield over that period.
Barry Hawkins’ Recent Crucible Performances
It hasn’t all been plain sailing for the Hawk at the Crucible. The three-time ranking event winner lost his first five matches at the venue and also succumbed to a 10-1 loss on his debut appearance, losing out against Ken Doherty in 2006.
It was a harsh introduction to Crucible snooker for debutant Li. The Chinese 28-year-old pinched the last frame of this morning’s session against Hawkins to trail 8-1. That meant he avoided the same fate of compatriot and fellow debutant Luo Honghao, who became only the second player to suffer a whitewash at the Crucible in losing 10-0 to Shaun Murphy.
Hawkins swiftly brought a close to proceedings when play got underway this evening. He fired in breaks of 69 and 95 to wrap up the 10-1 victory and book a second round meeting with either Kyren Wilson or Scott Donaldson.
Hawkins said: “Li struggled there and to be honest I was hoping he would, as it’s his first time here. It’s a little bit ironic, as I lost 10-1 on my first time here and now I’ve beaten him 10-1. It is strange how things work out.
“It’s horrible when someone’s struggling, but in the World Championship I’ll take it all day long. I’d rather win 10-1 and get through easily, relax for the next few days and watch everyone else sweat it out like Stuart Bingham did last night. You can’t feel sorry for your opponent too much. He’ll come back stronger for sure.”
On the other table Ali Carter established a slender 5-4 advantage over Jack Lisowski, to set up an intriguing final session when they play to a finish tomorrow afternoon at 1pm.
World number 19 Carter eased through qualifying to book his Crucible place, dropping just nine of the 39 frames he played. While Lisowski is competing as a seed for the first time, having upped his world ranking to 11th after a fine season
They traded blows in the first four frames. Lisowski top scored with a century break of 101 to make it 2-2 at the mid-session.
Carter then imposed himself on the game with three frames on the bounce to make it 5-2. The eighth frame came down to a re-spotted black. After a period of impressive safety play, Carter took on an ambitious double and left the ball over the corner pocket for Lisowski to deposit.
Gloucester’s Lisowski then claimed the final frame with breaks of 40 and 44 to leave the tie in the balance heading into tomorrow.