Brilliant Barry Hawkins completes Masters hat-trick over Shaun Murphy
Barry Hawkins got the better of Shaun Murphy once again at the Masters as he claimed a 6-2 victory at Alexandra Palace on Monday.
The Hawk completed a hat-trick of wins over the Magician in snooker’s most prestigious invitational event, having also prevailed when they met at this stage in 2017 and 2019.
Returning to the tournament having missed out in Milton Keynes last year, Hawkins reeled off five successive frames to advance to the quarter-finals, where he will face either Mark Selby or Stephen Maguire.
Both players were seeking a morale-boosting win having endured relatively quiet seasons by their standards.
Following a scrappy start to the contest, world number 10 Hawkins drew first blood with a neat 65 clearance.
Struggling with neck and back problems, Murphy has suffered first-round exits at the British Open, Champion of Champions and UK Championship this term.
Nevertheless, the 2015 champion responded with a run of 69 as he won the next two frames to edge his nose in front.
Although Hawkins responded with 67, Murphy was in to restore his lead after the interval. However, a missed pink to the right centre saw the Hawk swoop with a 60 clearance to regain the advantage.
It proved crucial as the 2016 runner-up built on his momentum with breaks of 103 and 69 on the way to wrapping up a commanding win.
Earlier in the day, John Higgins overcame debutant Zhao Xintong by the same scoreline in an intriguing battle between youth met experience.
The two-time champion was making a record 28th appearance in the Masters; his first coming in 1995 – two years before Zhao was born.
The Scotsman opened with 100, but the recently crowned UK champion responded with a magnificent total clearance of 128 to level.
Higgins was defeated 6-5 by the Chinese sensation at the York Barbican before Christmas, but his experience proved a key factor here.
Indeed, he controlled the next two frames, before a brilliant 104 clearance put him 4-1 to the good.
The 93rd different player to appear in this event, Zhao stopped the rot in the following frame, but it proved a false dawn with a clearance of 78 by Higgins sealing the deal.
WATCH MASTERS SNOOKER STREAMED LIVE (18+)
Masters Snooker 2022 Results
Monday January 10
John Higgins 6-2 Zhao Xintong
Shaun Murphy 2-6 Barry Hawkins