BARRY HAWKINS’ hopes of reaching a third consecutive World Championship semi-final remain on track after a brilliant fightback saw him clinch victory over Mark Allen.
Hawkins fought back from 11-8 behind against the Ulsterman to seal his place in the quarter-finals where he will play either Neil Robertson or Ali Carter.
After winning six out of the final eight frames, the turnaround means Hawkins is just one more win away from securing a third straight Crucible semi-final appearance after becoming a finalist in 2013 and losing in the penultimate round last year.
Hawkins, who beat Matthew Selt in a final frame decider in the opening round, was forced to do it the hard way once again after Allen dominated the early proceedings leading 9-7 at the end of the second session.
The final frame of the second session could have seen Allen take a 10-6 lead but Hawkins potted the final blue and pink to steel the frame and importantly reduce his deficit to just two frames.
Allen, bidding to win the World Championship for the first time, made the perfect start to the evening session as a break of 81 put him 10-7 in front. Hawkins won the next but Allen quickly restored his three-frame advantage with a break of 109.
But Hawkins, ranked officially number 5 in the world, hit back winning the next two frames to close to one behind before he dominated the next one to level the scores at 11-11 leaving the match finely in the balance.
And with momentum on his side, Hawkins then made a 102 break to go just one frame away from victory and a close fought contest was decided in frame 22 when Allen attempted a tough final pink only to see it travel around the table close to a top cushion pocket which gifted Hawkins victory.
Elsewhere John Higgins’ hopes of winning a fifth world title this year have now faded altogether after he fell to a second round defeat to Ding Junhui earlier today (Saturday).
Trailing 9-7 following Friday night’s second session, Higgins needed a good start to get right back into contention. But sadly for the Scot that good start did not materialise as a 63 clearance from Ding after Higgins missed a black when on a run of 40.
Higgins’ hopes were not helped in the next frame either as Ding extended his lead further to 11-7 after making the most of three scoring opportunities. The Scot pulled one back with a break of 94 before Ding edged closer to victory with an 89 clearance to lead 12-8 at the interval.
Higgins reduced his arrears to 12-9 after the restart but Ding dominated frame 22 to take victory and earn a place in the quarter-finals of the World Championship for just the third time. Ding will face either Marco Fu or Judd Trump for a place in the semi-finals.
And another player who safely secured his place into the last eight was Stuart Bingham who saw off former world champion Graeme Dott with a 13-5 victory.
Leading 11-5 after two dominant sessions on Friday, Bingham only needed two frames to seal his place in the last eight where he will face the winner of Matthew Stevens or Ronnie O’Sullivan.
O’Sullivan recovered from a slow start to take a 5-3 lead over the Welshman after the first session of their last 16 clash.
Stevens was in impressive form when he convincingly beat fellow Welshman Mark Williams in the opening round 10-2 and his form continued from the outset against the five-times world champion after winning the opening frame on the colours and then a break of 82 handed him a 2-0.
A break of 100 in the third frame was just what the doctor ordered for O’Sullivan – and that proved the turning point as he reeled off the next four frames with breaks of 63, 61 and an impressive clearance of 47 in the process..
Stevens ensured he resumed Sunday just two frames behind winning the final frame with a break of 71.
And 2010 world champion Neil Robertson took early control of his second round encounter against Ali Carter – gaining a 6-2 lead and making two century breaks during the process.