Hawkins hoping to recapture form
Hawkins hoping to recapture form

Kent’s Barry Hawkins hopes the unique nature of The Masters will bring out his best form as he aims to capture an elusive Triple Crown triumph at Alexandra Palace this week.

The seventh seed from Ditton near Maidstone comes up against Shaun Murphy on Tuesday night in what could be one of the matches of the first round.

Both players have spent 21 seasons as a pro, and have similar win percentages during that time, although Murphy currently holds the head-to-head advantage 11-6.

However, The Hawk thrashed Murphy 6-1 when they met at this stage in 2017.

“It’s extra special. One-table setup, the best 16 in the world – it doesn’t get much better than that,” he said.

“Alexandra Palace is a great venue, the arena’s great to play in and there’s always a big crowd so if you can’t get excited about that, you shouldn’t be playing really.

“When The Masters comes around, you normally feel quite refreshed after the Christmas break – you have a bit of time off over Christmas and then get your head down for the Masters – so it’s really one to look forward to.”

Hawkins has reached the semi-finals in two of the last three Masters tournaments, finishing runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2016, but hasn’t got past round one in any of his other five appearances, proving the ultra-competitive nature of The Masters.

Hawkins, however, will be encouraged by his recent record against the former world champion, winning four of the last six against The Magician.

Despite Murphy’s renowned break-building ability, Hawkins can rival the world number 11 in this area too – claiming 24 century breaks to Murphy’s 20 this season.

Although Murphy claimed the 2015 crown, he has won just one Masters match since, but Hawkins knows any match at Ally Pally cannot be underestimated.

“These sorts of situations get the best out of the best players, especially when you’re playing against top opposition no matter who you play, so that’s the difference,” Hawkins commented.

“Playing Shaun Murphy’s always a great match – he’s attacking and doesn’t hang about around the table so it’s always a match you can look forward to. I enjoy watching him play.

“Hopefully I can get one over on him!”