Barry Hawkins reeled off five frames in a row to beat Shaun Murphy 6-2 in the Masters at Alexandra Palace.
Hawkins, a runner-up five years ago, won all four frames after the interval and faces Mark Selby or Stephen Maguire in the quarter-finals next.
“First time I’ve felt like a snooker player all season,” Hawkins said afterwards. “I felt quietly confident and after the interval I played a lot stronger.
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“It was a big frame [the fifth], it gave me more confidence and then one visit the next frame.”
Murphy, who admitted ahead of the tournament that injury issues are forcing him to tailor his career, started his Masters campaign with a foul following a decent opening break from Hawkins.
“He looks in some discomfort out there,” Alan McManus said on Eurosport’s commentary, noting Murphy’s stance, although ‘The Magician’ was able to bring the score back to 31-31 in the first frame before missing a red while using the rest.
McManus suggested Murphy had no choice but to implement an “impatient” approach to manage the pain, and after a risky shot off two cushions, Hawkins was able to clear up and take the first frame with a break of 65.
In the second frame, a super snooker from Murphy had Hawkins stumped, but remarkably after four misses the fifth attempt saw him finally clip the red, which then nicked off another red before travelling into the right middle pocket.
‘What a crazy game!’ – Hawkins misses four times, then gets monster fluke
The fluke had the Alexandra Palace crowd applauding, Hawkins laughing and celebrating with his arm in the air, while Murphy had his hand over his face in disbelief before a wry smile emerged.
It helped Hawkins build a small lead, but a miss allowed Murphy back in, and a quality break of 69 saw him level the match up.
Another safety-filled frame followed, and it was Murphy who prevailed following a string of reds and blues before Hawkins made it all-square at the interval with a break of 67.
Murphy returned with intent, but could not kill the fifth frame off when playing with too much power on a pink, and from 54-4 down, Hawkins replied with a 60 break to edge 3-2 in front.
The first two-frame gap then opened up for Hawkins, who sunk an impressive 103 for the first century of the match.
In the groove, a superb shot with the rest helped Hawkins open the pack in the seventh frame, with a 69 enough to make it 5-2 and put him on the brink of victory.
Hawkins then led 27-14 when a crucial passage of safety play ended with ‘The Hawk’ sinking a tough red into the right middle pocket, and five frames on the spin ultimately made it an emphatic 6-2 win.
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