Heroic Barry Hawkins to face resilient Neil Robertson in Masters final
Barry Hawkins will play Neil Robertson in the 2022 Masters final after defeating Judd Trump 6-5 in a thrilling encounter on Saturday.
Despite squandering a 4-2 lead to trail 5-4, the Hawk held his nerve to advance to a second showpiece at snooker’s most prestigious invitational.
It was a day of the highest drama at Alexandra Palace, with both semi-finals going a deciding frame for the first time since 2002.
Indeed, Robertson recovered from needing two snookers to defeat Mark Williams on the final black in another nail-biter earlier on.
For the first time at a Triple Crown event, the semi-final line-up was comprised entirely of left-handed players.
Beating Shaun Murphy and Mark Selby, Hawkins had only dropped three frames on the way to his third appearance at this stage at Ally Pally – and first since 2017.
He crunched in a stunning long blue before taking the opener on the black, but Trump replied with breaks of 86 and 69 to lead 2-1.
Another tight frame went the way of Hawkins, who cleared from green to pink to level, before he went into overdrive with runs of 60 and 124 putting him 4-2 to the good.
But the tension began to take hold of the Hawk and smelling blood, 2019 champion Trump stepped in by winning the next three frames to move to within one of avenging his 6-4 defeat when the players met at this stage six years ago.
The 2016 runner-up must have feared the worst, having surrendered a 5-1 lead against the Ace in last year’s German Masters semi-finals.
Nevertheless, the world number 10 responded brilliantly; dominating the next frame with runs of 46 and 76 setting up a decider, which he also controlling with a break of 58 helping him over the line.
He will play Robertson, who recovered from 4-1 down before prevailing against Williams in another dramatic climax.
The 2012 champion took the opening frame with a 102 clearance, but runs of 59 and 71 saw Williams in front.
Appearing in his first Masters semi-final since 2010, the two-time winner then cleared up with 60 after Robertson broke down on 53 when bridging awkwardly, before dominating the next frame for a 4-1 lead.
The Thunder responded well with a break of 83 on the way to cutting the deficit to a single frame, but a fluked opening red in the next paved the way for Williams to move to the brink of victory with 91.
Robertson dug deep with magnificent clearances of 95 and 119 to force a decider, but it appeared his chance when needing two snookers.
Although Williams survived a tense tactical exchange with the final red and black tied up over the left corner to lead by 29 points with 27 remaining, he presented his opponent with a glorious opportunity after catching the green when attempted to swerve around it and hit the yellow.
The Australian needed no second invitation as he held himself together to clear the colours for a fourth appearance in the showpiece.