Barry Hawkins opened his World Championship account with a sensational 10-1 win over China’s Li Hang as continued his fine form in Sheffield.
The 40-year-old has never won snooker’s greatest prize, but he has gone close on a number of occasions and he loves playing at the Crucible Theatre.
In 2013 he finished runner-up, and he has since reached the semi-finals four times in the last five years. He remains on course to add to that record after a ruthless display on Wednesday.
Li struggled on his debut at the tournament and he won his only frame in the morning session to trail 8-1. Hawkins returned to the table and swiftly ended proceedings thanks to breaks of 69 and 95.
He will now face either Kyren Wilson or Scott Donaldson in the next round and Hawkins admitted Li’s display reminded him of his own first appearance in the famous tournament.
Hawkins told World Snooker: “Li struggled there and to be honest I was hoping he would, as it’s his first time here. It’s a little bit ironic, as I lost 10-1 on my first time here and now I’ve beaten him 10-1. It is strange how things work out.
“It’s horrible when someone’s struggling, but in the World Championship I’ll take it all day long.
I’d rather win 10-1 and get through easily, relax for the next few days and watch everyone else sweat it out like Stuart Bingham did last night. You can’t feel sorry for your opponent too much. He’ll come back stronger for sure.”
Hawkins is now 15.00 to win the tournament and his chances have been boosted after world number six Mark Allen crashed out. Qualifier Zhou Yuelong proved too much for the Northern Irishman and he is as big as 51.00 to get his hands on the trophy.