Barry Hawkins holds off Mark Selby fightback to reach European Masters Quarter-Finals
Barry Hawkins fended off a gallant fightback from Mark Selby to clinch an epic deciding frame victory for a place in the Quarter-Finals of the European Masters in Austria on Thursday.
Hawkins looked to be sailing towards a crushing victory after he stormed into a 4-0 lead, but only for Selby to reply with four consecutive frames of his own to force a decider.
Hawkins, however, regained his composure to compile a brace of half centuries and get over the line for a place in Friday’s Last Eight.
The world number 12 punished an out of sorts Selby in the first half of the match, firing in breaks of 55, 69, 102 and 100 to put his opponent at the point of no return.
Hawkins had a chance to complete the whitewash in frame five but lost position, allowing Selby off the hook to get his first frame on the scoreboard.
Selby further underlined his trademark tenacity by powering in consecutive breaks of 82, 136 and 72 to send it all the way, but only to see his hopes of completing the comeback shattered as ‘The Hawk’ swooped with breaks of 50 and 59 in the decider.
Hawkins will now face Zhou Yuelong in the Last Eight after the 21-year-old Chinese ace overcame 18-year-old Jackson Page 5-3.
Zhou had earlier knocked out three-time World Champion Mark Williams 5-4 in Round One and followed up that scalp with victory over another Welsh cueist with top breaks of 91 and 100 along the way.
Meanwhile, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh reeled off three consecutive frames from 4-2 down to deny John Higgins in a decider.
Higgins began the match with a break of 92 before Un-Nooh levelled at two apiece with a break of 52.
A low-scoring affair saw Higgins clinch the next two frames to move to the verge of victory, but only for Un-Nooh to respond with successive frames of his own before killing off the match in style with a break of 89 in the decider.
Un-Nooh will now face Neil Robertson in the Quarter-Finals after he defeated Graeme Dott 5-2 in a repeat of the 2010 World Championship final.
Robertson snatched the first frame despite a 66 break from Dott before adding breaks of 52 and 75 to open up a 3-0 advantage.
Dott got off the mark with a break of 77 before the duo exchanged half centuries to leave Robertson leading 4-2, and the trend continued as the Aussie sealed the deal with another 50 break in frame seven.
Scott Donaldson pulled off a significant scalp as he knocked out UK Champion Ding Junhui 5-2 to make it back-to-back ranking event Quarter-Finals.
Ding produced a terrific break of 131 to make it one apiece, but Donaldson replied with a stunning 109 and a 50 break to move two clear.
The pair then exchanged frames five and six before the 25-year-old completed the upset with an impressive break of 76.
Hong Kong’s Marco Fu continued his resurgent run of form by dispatching China’s Xiao Guodong 5-2 with high breaks of 72, 53, 65 and 52.
Fu will now face Gary Wilson on Friday after the Crucible semi-finalist saw off Zhao Xintong 5-1 with top breaks of 66 and 102.
Ali Carter continued the superb form which led him to the final of The Masters last Sunday as he came from 2-0 down to defeat Michael Holt in a last-frame decider.
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European Masters Snooker 2020 Results
Thursday January 23
Mark Williams 4-5 Zhou Yuelong
Gary Wilson 5-1 Luca Brecel
Michael White 2-5 Zhao Xintong
Michael Holt 4-5 Ali Carter
Ding Junhui 2-5 Scott Donaldson
John Higgins 4-5 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Graeme Dott 2-5 Neil Robertson
Zhou Yuelong 5-3 Jackson Page
Barry Hawkins 5-4 Mark Selby
Marco Fu 5-2 Xiao Guodong
Gary Wilson 5-1 Zhao Xintong