Barry Hawkins advanced to the Champion of Champions semi-finals for the first time after a commanding 6-2 win over Robert Milkins on Tuesday.
The Hawk was also a dominant 4-0 winner over reigning World champion Luca Brecel as he dropped just two frames on the way to winning Group 2 during a dominant day at the Bolton Whites Hotel.
Hawkins was marking his return to the prestigious invitational event following an impressive start to the season, in which he has already claimed silverware at the European Masters in August.
And the four-time ranking event winner has built on that momentum by breaking new ground courtesy of securing his maiden appearance in the last four of this tournament.
“I’m delighted to get through that group because all the groups here are tough with tournament winners,” he told Matchroom Sport. “There are no easy games, so to come through is really pleasing.
“Against Luca, I didn’t put a foot wrong really – I can’t play much better than that.
“Against Rob, it turned out to be a really horrible match. Rob was really struggling, kept missing balls.
“Sometimes, it’s a bit of a shock to the system when you’re playing such a class player and they keep missing – it puts you out your stride a little bit. When I got the opportunity in that last frame, it was important to finish the match off.”
Hawkins made a statement of intent with his 4-0 whitewash of Brecel, hitting breaks of 128, 50, 59 and 108 as he outscored the reigning Crucible king by 383 points to 49.
The Hawk then snatched the opening frame of the Group 2 final against Milkins on the black from needing two snookers, while a run of 55 doubled his lead.
Milkins, who claimed his first win at the tournament with a 4-2 success over three-time World champion Mark Williams earlier in the day, looked to respond in frame three. But he broke down on 45 and Hawkins produced a superb 83 counter clearance on the way to a 4-0 advantage at the mid-session interval.
Although the Milkman halted his streak of eight successive frames upon the resumption, the Hawk moved to the brink of victory in a closely fought sixth as he cleared from the last red to snatch it on the pink.
Reigning Welsh Open champion Milkins kept his faint hopes alive with a timely 81, but a subsequent 83 was more than enough to see Hawkins over the line.
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Champion of Champions 2023 Schedule
Tuesday November 14
Luca Brecel 0-4 Barry Hawkins
Mark Williams 2-4 Robert Milkins
Barry Hawkins 6-2 Robert Milkins