Hawkins claims maiden ranking title
Barry Hawkins delivered some superb attacking snooker to outplay Peter Ebdon 9-3 and claim his maiden ranking event title at the Australian Goldfields Open.
After dropping the first frame, Hawkins surged into a 4-1 lead with four successive 50+ breaks, condemning his compatriot to over an hour without a pot in the all-English final.
Ebdon, three times a World Championship finalist with one victory a decade ago, stuck it out to get back into the match as he restricted Hawkins to taking a 5-3 advantage into the closing session.
But when play resumed Hawkins re-discovered his irrepressible break building and long potting to take four frames on the bounce and end the evening's play without an interval in a glorious performance which moves him into the top 20 of the provisional seedings.
After a run to 46 put the 41-year-old Ebdon ahead in the opening frame, Hawkins found the cueing form which brought him to his first ranking event final and his builds grew in confidence and size.
Breaks of 57 and 74 put Hawkins in front, a position he would maintain for the remainder of the match, before a 106 doubled his advantage heading into the mid-session interval.
It appeared to be the worst possible time for the Dartford native to take a break, but little changed in frame five as Hawkins racked up a 114 and things looked bleak for the veteran as he had clocked up an hour without a single pot.
Ebdon, however, finally got back into the match in the sixth frame with a knock of 63 stopped that the rot, only for a miss on the final yellow in frame seven to guarantee Hawkins a lead into the evening.
But another 46 break from Ebdon and a half-hearted attempt by Hawkins to produce a frame-saving snooker kept the deficit to two frames and left a potential fight-back on the cards for session two.
The fight-back never came, however, as the 33-year-old 'Hawk' began the evening with a soaring 133, the best run of the final. A pair of unfortunate in-offs from Ebdon then helped make it 7-3 before a 74 break left Hawkins requiring just one more frame.
Ebdon got a start with a quickfire 40 in the next, but Hawkins wrapped things up with a 51 - his seventh half-century in the match - before leaving a snooker on the yellow that forced an error and allowed Hawkins to secure a massive tournament success.
The new Goldfields champion was initially lost for words and a little broken up after the match, but said: "I can't believe it, to be honest. It feels strange.
"I felt surprisingly calm up until the final brown, now I'm over the moon. This doesn't happen very often for me but hopefully I can keep it going.
"I put myself under a bit too much pressure at the end of the first session but I came out after the break with that 133, which I couldn't believe really."
Runner-up Ebdon was philosophical after the defeat, admitting his surprise at even getting to the final.
"Barry thoroughly deserved to win," he conceded. "He played excellent snooker, his all-round play was very good and he potted a lot of balls.
"He has been a winner waiting to happen, unfortunately it was against me today.
"I have won some events in the past and hope to win more but congratulations to Barry in winning his first ranking event, he deserved it.
"It just didn't happen for me today but if you told me before the tournament that I'd make the final I wouldn't have believed you.
"There's a lot of positives for me to take out of this week even though I wasn't very confident coming in and I played some decent match snooker, unfortunately it didn't continue today."