Hawk(ins) lands on victory
Qualifier Barry Hawkins won 9-3 over the 2002 world champion Peter Ebdon, to conquer his first ever ranking event title during the Australian Open tournament final. It is a coincidence that Stuart Bingham also won this event as his first ranking title last year.
After reaching the semi-final of two PTC events in 2011, winning the Shoot-Out tournament at the beginning of 2012, and being responsible for the early exit of Mark Selby from the World Championship, Barry Hawkins has stepped into the spotlight.
However, his rise reached its apogee during this week’s Australian Open, the second major ranking event since the beginning of the new season.
Hawkins recorded victories of 5-1 against China’s Xiao Guodong, 5-2 against the Welshman Matthew Stevens, 5-3 by playing Matthew Selt and 6-4 by taking on his green baize mate and recently 6-Red world champion, Mark Davis.
But the most important battle was yet to come, with the final being between him and a player whose slow cue style has been enough to frustrate a lot of players through time, Peter Ebdon.
The final started with Ebdon taking a scrappy frame and Hawkins responding with breaks of 57, 74, 106 and 114 to grab the next four.
It was more than an hour since the 2002 world champion potted a ball, but he carefully managed to collect 63 points and reduce the deficit at 4-2, before Hawkins did it again and won the seventh frame.
Still, as the mid-session interval was about to kick off, Ebdon took the last frame and trail by 5-3.
As the players returned to the Bendigo Stadium arena, Hawkins hurried up to clear the table with what was to be his third century break of the match (a beautiful 133) and carried on with runs of 74 and 51 to close the deal at 9-3. The hawk had landed.
An overwhelmed Hawkins who found his words with difficulty, received the trophy and a cheque of $70,000, along with 5,000 ranking points that have helped him to move forward in reaching every player’s dream (aka the Top 16), on the 20th place in the ranking system.
Ramona Dragomir, Snooker correspondent