Barry Hawkins has admitted his disappointment at defeat to Mark King in the Northern Ireland Open final, but remains optimistic following his run at the inaugural event in Belfast.
Hawkins produced some brilliant Snooker at the Titanic Exhibition Centre – dropping just three frames on the way to the semi-finals – and raced into a 5-1 lead, before being pegged back and edged out in a decider by an inspired King, who claimed his maiden ranking title.
Nevertheless, the world number 11 was generally pleased with his performance levels and drew plenty of positives along the way.
“I played really consistently throughout the week, so it was just a shame and quite disappointing that my level dropped in the final and I didn’t play as well as I did throughout the tournament,” he observed.
“Overall, I can’t complain or be too down on myself – another final, another good week and it’s probably guaranteed my spot in the Masters.”
“At the moment, I must be doing something right and I’ve just got to try and keep it going if I can.”
The Hawk bounced back from that loss well with a resounding 6-0 whitewash of David John in the opening round of the UK Championship on Tuesday.
He was satisfied with the response he made in York, which saw him knock in a top break of 129 on the way to setting up a showdown with the methodical Fergal O’Brien in round two.
"After the final, you’re back down to earth in round one. It was important that I kept my focus and put in a good performance, which I did against David,”
Barry Hawkins of England looks on (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
he explained. “It was just what I needed to get over it as quickly as possible.
“Fergal won’t be giving anything easy away – he’s a very, very tough match player.
“I just need to keep doing what I’m doing – play the balls, play the right shots and take my chances when they do come along. If I play well then, hopefully, I’ll win.”
Overall, it is fair to say that the Kent cueist, who also reached the semi-finals of the English Open last month, is starting to peak at a very good time in the season, with the UK Championship in full swing and the Masters just on the horizon.
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Hawkins is targeting automatic qualification for the World Championship, while a third ranking title is also towards the top of his list.
“Any time is a good time to hit form. If you can do well in a few tournaments, it sets you up for the rest of the year,” he added.
“My main priority before this cut-off was to guarantee my place in the Masters and I think I’ve done that. So, my next priority is to secure my qualification for the Crucible.
“If I keep playing well, hopefully I’ll get another chance at a trophy. I’ll just keep working hard and see where it takes me.”