Hawkins into World Championship Second Round
Hawkins into World Championship Second Round

Kent’s Barry Hawkins is through to the second round of the World Snooker Championship after a hard-fought 10-7 victory over Stuart Carrington on Monday.

With the match finishing just short of passing midnight, Hawkins, from Ditton near Maidstone, was able to celebrate the final moments of his 39th birthday – well, by answering questions in the post-match press conference at least.

An unusual stat surfaced on social media stating that it was, in fact, the sixth time that Hawkins had played a match at the Crucible on his birthday – surpassing the previous highest amount of five that was held by Jimmy White.

In recent years, the occasion has been a rewarding one for Hawkins in Sheffield as his triumph over Carrington ensured that he moved beyond the last 32 for the eighth consecutive year.

That this run has materialised following a five-year spell at the start of his Crucible career when he failed to win a single fixture at the venue is a testament to how much he has improved as a player.

Hawkins wasn’t anywhere near his best against Carrington but was predominantly a step or two in front of his fellow Englishman, who himself suffered a third World Championship first-round defeat in four years.

The “Hawk” will advance to the last 16 to face Lyu Haotian, the youngest competitor in this year’s draw, after the 20 year-old Chinese cueist’s 10-5 success against Marco Fu.

Hawkins will be a huge favourite in that due to his experience of handling the big stage and, perhaps more importantly, the longer format that Lyu won’t be at all accustomed to.

With a run to the final, three semi-final appearances, and another place in the quarter-finals in the last five years, Hawkins clearly has the pedigree to be a contender in the 2018 edition but he will likely have to improve on his first performance when he starts running into the heavier hitters.

Also in Hawkins’ quarter is China’s Ding Junhui, who recovered from a slow start in his tie against countryman Xiao Guodong to establish a 6-3 overnight cushion.