Apr 22

Barry Hawkins - Back in the Big Time

The absence of Neil Robertson from this year’s edition of the World Championship has consumed plenty of column inches already this season, but a year ago it was Barry Hawkins who was the notable absentee.

After an unbroken run at the venue dating back to 2006, he lost out in qualifiers and admits to feeling quite low about his game.
That’s why this year on his return, he’s making it his priority to really saviour the occasion.

“It’s a privilege to be back here as one of the seeds,” he told Snooker System. “It’s been a good year for me so to know I’m ending the season playing at the World Championship is a great feeling.

“It’s been two years since I’ve even seen the Crucible and you just look at the building and all the memories come flooding back.

“I’m going to appreciate every second out there because you never know when you’re going to be here again. You’ve got no divine right to be anywhere in this game.”

Hawkins – who won the European Masters at the start of this campaign – is back up to number 15 in the world rankings and believes it’s the high standard at the top of the game which is making it so difficult to maintain your seeded place in Sheffield each year.

He said: “As soon as you take your foot off the gas in this game, you just get done. It doesn’t forgive you.

“There are so many great players around and that’s what makes the top, top players so special; they’re on it all the time.

“I was gutted not to be coming here (last year) but it was more awful in the fact that I finished off what was a poor season with two terrible days in qualifying. I remember coming off and thinking ‘Jesus that was bad’ and feeling really low.

 “I’m not getting any younger so for the next couple of years I’m just going to enjoy every second of it because you don’t know how long you’re going to get to play in these great arenas.”

Despite the setback a year ago, Hawkins comes into the draw with plenty of Crucible pedigree, having enjoyed a golden period of reaching the one-table set-up five times in six years – and this included a defeat to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final in 2013 and then beating him in the second round in 2016.

It could be the same match up again if he can overcome Ryan Day in his first-round match.

“The last time I beat him was here in the same round so maybe that’s an omen,” he said. “I don’t want to get too carried away or too excited because I’ve got to beat Ryan first and he’s got to beat Jackson, so it’s a long way off at the moment.

“But if I do get there and I do get to play Ronnie, it’ll be another great occasion for me.

“Ryan has got lots of experience playing here so it’s going to be an extremely tough match; there’s no way else to describe it.”
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