Gritty Hawkins pegs back Walden
Barry Hawkins won five of the eight frames in the second session of their World Championship semi-final to trail Ricky Walden 9-7 going into Saturday’s match conclusion.
It was a dour and scrappy affair with neither player anywhere near their best as the eight frames took three and a half hours to complete.
Hawkins had his chances in the opener establishing a 48 point lead but a red drifted across the middle pocket with the frame in his grasp. A tense safety exchange on the yellow lasted over 20 minutes until Hawkins finally cleared to the blue to take the frame.
The scrappy start to the session continued in the next with an awful break off shot from Hawkins going straight back into the pack. Both players then missed balls that club standard players would pot with their eyes closed. Hawkins finally capitalised on another poor safety to win a frame that could have been a montage for the tournament’s worst misses all by itself.
The poor standard continued in the third of the afternoon with both playing so badly that tension began to take over their cue arms and fear of missing occupied their respective mindsets. Another long frame followed, Walden pinching it after Hawkins made a hash of his pot on brown to blue.
With the standard picking up only marginally in the next Hawkins finally won a protracted 12th on the green, both players again failing to make a frame winning impact on several visits to the table.
The mid-session interval appeared to do little for either player, four wild opening attempts at pots failing to get close to the jaws of the pockets. But when Walden did finally get a third chance he grabbed it with both hands, knocking in his sixth century of the competition with a composed 106 break.
Two scoring visits proved enough for Hawkins to pull back another although he could only succeed in equalling his match high of 36. But he crucially did surpass that bogey mark in the next, a break of 47 greeted with ironic cheers and a punch of the air and a smile from Hawkins as he drew to within one.
But Walden weighed in with what could be a crucial 53 in the session’s final frame to take a two frame advantage into Saturday.
FIRST SESSION REPORT
Ricky Walden was the more clinical man in the opening session of his World Championship semi-final with Barry Hawkins, hitting two centuries on his way to a 6-2 lead in Sheffield.
Walden started the battle of the last-four underdogs strong, taking the opening frame with an early 30 followed by a 91 clearance.
Hawkins suffered two early fouls in the second, going in-off and catching the black in a snooker escape attempt, and Walden punished him with a classy 105 century break for a 2-0 advantage.
The match descended into more of a slugfest from there, and the third frame was re-racked when the reds all ended up in a scattered mess in one corner.
Attempt number two was hardly any better as the duo managed to sent over 10 reds up beyond the blue, but Hawkins was able to navigate his way around the situation to get off the mark in the match.
A deft Walden clearance after some wasted opportunities from his opponent put him 3-1 ahead at the mid-session interval, and although Hawkins pulled another back with mini-trips of 36 – his highest of the session – and 27 on the final colours, that would be his lot for the first session.
Walden swept away a 119 clearance which was even more impressive than his first ton of the contest before another host of Hawkins failures to break beyond 30 led to a 5-2 deficit.
It was the same story in the last frame of the session, and if Hawkins is to realise his dream of a maiden World Championship final at the expense of Walden, he will need to take his chances when the two resume on Friday afternoon.