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Hawkins beaten in Masters final
Hawkins beaten in Masters final

Neil Robertson proved too strong for Kent’s Barry Hawkins in their battle for the Paul Hunter Trophy at the Alexandra Palace.

Robertson became Masters champion for a second time when comfortably taking care of Barry Hawkins 10-4.

The Australian took control of the match in the first session, and he kept Hawkins at arm’s length to secure a fifth Triple Crown, to go with his win in 2012, three UK Championships and one World Championship.

Robertson made a slow start to the season, after taking time out to get married in the summer, but the Paul Hunter Trophy will join the English Open in the display cabinet and he will head into the rest of the season on a high – with the World Championship the big goal.

Hawkins deserves great credit for his run to the final and may reflect on the chances he passed up, but he looked a far more positive player this week and will have high hopes of soon snapping a winless run dating back to 2019.

Ronnie O’Sullivan said between sessions that Hawkins’ best chance was to go on the attack. It’s debatable whether he was watching the Rocket, but the Hawk went for his shots early in the evening.

He was unfortunate to see a tough red into the bottom right wiggle in the jaws – and Robertson seized on his opening to knock in a break of 50 to open up a three-frame cushion.Hawkins had the crowd on his side being the home favourite, but as much as that they wanted to see a match.

A huge roar greeted the Hawk’s opening red in the 10th, and a break of 69 got him into the evening session.

Robertson left Hawkins a tempter in the opening frame of the evening which he took on but failed to get. There was a repeat in the 11th frame, and it paid dividends for the Australian. Hawkins’ miss presented his opponent with a tempting table, and he cashed in with a break of 68.

The 12th frame had a pivotal feel to it, a four-frame or two-frame gap. It proved a nervy affair, with both missing simple pots. But it was Robertson who got ahead and crunched a brilliant long red into the bottom left to take a stranglehold on the contest heading into the final interval.

The scoreboard pressure on Hawkins was huge, and after getting in with a superb red in the 13th frame he faltered – and left the table open for Robertson.The balls still needed to be potted, but with the cushion of a four-frame advantage Robertson did not falter – and his second century of the day moved him to within one step of victory.

Robertson has won a tournament every year since 2006, and his stunning play in the final frame – as he was freed from pressure and potted for pleasure – ticked that off for another 12 months in the opening event of the year.

There was disappointment in not getting his hands on the trophy, but Hawkins conceded Robertson was a better player and is looking forward to the remainder of the campaign.“I am not too disappointed.”

“I have lost in a final and that is disappointing, but I have had a great week. Probably one of the best weeks of my life.”

“The atmosphere has been unbelievable all week, I played some amazing matches, but I made too many mistakes today and you can’t do that against Neil.”

“I have got to take the positives. I played some good stuff, take the positives and crack on for the rest of the season.”