Barry Hawkins dispensed of tournament favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan in the second round of the 2016 Snooker World Championship and given the Hawk’s recent Crucible Theatre record, there is plenty of appeal in his odds to be crowned champion.
It may have taken Hawkins a good six or seven years to develop a taste for the Crucible cloths, but the unassuming world number 11 has featured very prominently in Sheffield recently.
Having never hurdled the second round in snooker’s marathon event up until 2012, Hawkins accounted for future world champion Mark Selby and double UK Championship winner Ding Junhui as he unexpectedly swept into the 2013 final.
Unfortunately for the Hawk’s ambitions of lifting the big one, he ran into snooker royalty O’Sullivan in the showpiece, where he eventually succumbed to a very respectable 18-12 loss.
The Rocket went onto scupper Hawkins’ aspirations at the semi-final stage a year on and just 12 months ago Hawkins confirmed his Crucible credentials by making yet another last-four appearance.
Fast forward to the 2016 version and the Kent native’s nail-biting final-frame victory over the Rocket could be just the belief-building tool to see the Hawk fly even higher.
That was the first time Hawkins has defeated his on-table nemesis in 10 matches, stretching over 14 years.
Ahead of his quarter-final showdown with Marco Fu where he’s 8/15 to get through, the Englishman is out at 9/2 for overall glory, where John Higgins, Selby and Ding are all better fancied.
This price looks pretty plump when considering Hawkins’ recent match ups with his Hong Kong counterpart Fu, as well.
The Hawk is looking to complete a fourth successive victory over Hong Kong Fuey, having toppled him three times in 2014 alone.
Should the left-hander account for Fu, his likely semi-final opponent will be the Jester from Leicester, who he has twice beaten on the grandest stage and whose early showings at this year’s edition haven’t been entirely convincing.
There is a long way to go, but Hawkins may never get a better chance of writing his name into the history books.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.