Barry Hawkins claimed ranking silverware for the first time in six years, scoring a momentous 9-6 win over 2019 World Champion Judd Trump in the BetVictor European Masters final in Nuremberg.
The Hawk was competing in the European Masters final for a second consecutive year. He made the title match 12 months ago, where he succumbed to a 9-3 loss at the hands of Kyren Wilson.
That was the fourth in a chain of final defeats which frustrated the 44-year-old. Since beating Ryan Day 10-7 in the 2017 World Grand Prix final, Hawkins was runner-up at the 2018 Welsh Open, 2018 China Open and 2022 Players Championship. This evening he finally returned to the winner’s circle.
Hawkins had to tread a perilous path this week to capture a fourth ranking crown. The Londoner came from 3-1 down to beat James Cahill 5-3 in his opening tie. He then went on to inflict Luca Brecel’s first defeat as World Champion by a 5-4 scoreline and defeated four-time Crucible king Mark Selby 6-4 in the semi-finals.
Victory sees Hawkins pick up the £80,000 top prize. It will move straight to the top of the one-year list and the BetVictor Series standings. Whoever accumulates the most prize money across the counting events in the BetVictor Series will pocket a huge £150,000 bonus.
Defeat for Trump extends his wait for ranking silverware. The Ace in the Packs’s most recent ranking title came over a year ago at the 2022 Turkish Masters. However, he can reflect on a week which has seen him build a strong platform for his season ahead, which included a thrilling 6-5 win over John Higgins in the semi-finals.
Trump came into the evening session 5-3 behind and the deficit was soon extended when he fouled on the final black in the opening frame, handing Hawkins a 6-3 advantage.
A break of 53 in the 10th then saw Hawkins move two frames from the title at 7-3. However, Trump dug deep and won the last before the mid-session to close within three frames.
When play resumed Trump made it 7-5, before an edgy 13th frame where both players missed opportunities. Eventually it was Hawkins who spurned a pivotal brown to the middle and Trump cleared up to make it 7-6.
From there Hawkins showed his steel and crucially took the 14th without conceding a point to move 8-6 ahead. After leaving Trump needing snookers in the next and having seemingly got over the line, a safety battle ensued and Hawkins was made to wait for the winning moment. He eventually deposited a red to the top left and looked to the skies in relief. The 44-year-old had finally got over the line and captured the title.
“It feels amazing. There was a stage of the match where I thought it was happening again. I lost my way, but towards the end I got my focus back and it was a weird feeling. I started feeling calm again. It was strange. I obviously got a bit of help from Judd today which I am thankful for, because once he gets going he is so dangerous. I battled hard today. It wasn’t a free flowing match but it doesn’t matter at the end of the day. I’m just so happy to pick up another trophy,” said an elated Hawkins.
“When he is coming back at you it is hard not to think the worst sometimes. It has been such a long time since I was in the winner’s enclosure. You forget how it feels. I managed to stay as calm as possible and I fell over the line in the end.
“It is hard to describe the feeling. It is massive elation and massive relief. I’ve finally won a tournament, but all of a sudden you come down again. It is back down to earth again now and onto the next one.
“It is up there with, if not the best win of my career. All the great players were here this week and the match against Selby was such a feather in my cap. It was a high quality game and put me under so much pressure. I stood up to it and was really pleasing.”
Trump said: “I am happy to have been in the final. I would have liked to play better and pushed Barry a little bit. It wasn’t to be. His safety was very good and put me under pressure. I knew it was going to be difficult. I gave it my all but I wasn’t there today. Congratulations to Barry and his family. I hope he has a good celebration.”
Article by WST.