Saturday 21 July 2018

Hawkins and Wilson close in on semi-finals at Crucible

John Higgins back in the World Championship final. Photo: PA
John Higgins back in the World Championship final. Photo: PA

Barry Hawkins moved to the brink of the Betfred World Championship semi-finals as he took an 11-5 lead over Ding Junhui last night.

Hawkins, who has reached the semi-finals in three of the past four years, continued his form in the evening session as three half-century breaks saw him increase his advantage from 5-3 to 8-3.

Ding, though, scored the first century of the match with 102, and a break of 52 got the Chinese cueman back within three frames.

But Hawkins regrouped and scored his eighth break of at least 50, before a 113 clearance saw him in complete control.

On the other table last night, Kyren Wilson closed in on his first Crucible semi-final as he went 11-5 ahead of Mark Allen.

World number nine Wilson is playing in the last eight for the third year in a row, and will go one step further if he can win two more frames when they return today at 2.30pm

Judd Trump begins this morning's quarter-final session with a 5-3 advantage over John Higgins.

Tremendous

With the score at 1-1 and Trump trailing 57-1 in frame three, he produced a tremendous clearance of 58 to steal it on the black.

From there the 2011 UK champion compiled breaks of 100 and 71 either side of the mid-session interval to move into a commanding 4-1 lead.

In typically determined fashion Higgins dug deep to respond with a break of 74, before taking the following frame to reduce his arrears to 4-3.

However, a break of 77 saw Trump take the last and make it 5-3 at the close of play yesterday.

The showdown is a repeat of the 2011 world final, when Higgins triumphed 18-15 to pick up his fourth world title amid a sizzling atmosphere at the Crucible.

On the other table yesterday, Mark Williams and Ali Carter finished their first session tied at 4-4.

Welshman Williams started superbly with a break of 135 in the opening frame, and he made a 60 in the second, only for Carter to take it with a 63 clearance.

Essex cueman Carter went 2-1 ahead with a break of 126, then in frame four Williams cleared from green to black to level at 2-2.

A run of 84 gave Williams the fifth frame and he looked favourite in the sixth when he trapped his opponent in a snooker with two reds left. But Carter was lucky to escape and fluke a snooker of his own, and from the chance that followed he made it 3-3.

Carter's break of 82 gave him frame seven, but Williams took the last of the session with a 68.

They return today at 2.30pm for eight more frames, then play to a finish from 7.0pm.

Williams is aiming for his third world title having lifted the trophy in 2000 and 2003.

Irish Independent

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