BARRY HAWKINS blew away the opposition on Tuesday as he stormed into his first Cazoo Champion of Champions semi-final.
“The Hawk” followed up his 4-0 victory over World Champion Luca Brecel in the afternoon Group 2 opener by soaring past Robert Milkins 6-2 in the evening.
Hawkins was too clinical for “The Milkman”, who had pulled of a shock in the afternoon with a solid 4-2 triumph over veteran Mark Williams.
Victory for Hawkins, 44, in the best of 11 tie set up a possible semi showdown with Judd Trump on Friday, assuming the tournament favourite comes through Group 3 on Thursday.
“I’m delighted to get through that group because all the groups here are tough with tournament winners,” said Hawkins. “I know Judd is the man of the moment and probably favourite to get through, but they are all great players in the other group. It’s a short format in the first match so it could be anyone who gets through.
“I’m playing again on Friday, and I am sticking around because it is too far for me to go home and travel back on Thursday, ready to play Friday. I’ll get some practice here and there and just chill.”
After scoring two centuries on his way to the Group final, Hawkins didn’t have it all his own way as he had to come back from needing two snookers to take the opening frame 56-52, but he never looked back as he took the next three frames to lead 4-0 at the interval.
Hawkins lost his first frame of the day when the players returned, but claimed the next, before Milkins pulled another one back with a break of 81. The fightback ended there, however, as his in-form opponent won the next frame to wrap up victory.
Earlier in the day it was a miserable fifth appearance in this tournament for “Belgian Bullet” Brecel as Hawkins opened and closed their match by breaking through the ton barrier.
He won the opening frame with a break of 128, and the fourth with a break of 108 in the best of seven tie.
The other semi-final was a war of attrition as Milkins won the first and third frames against Williams but was pegged back each time, before pulling away from “The Welsh Potting Machine”.
Wednesday’s Group 1 action at Bolton’s Toughsheet Stadium will take place without Ronnie O’Sullivan, after “The Rocket” withdrew from the tournament on Tuesday morning and was replaced by China’s Ding Junhui.
The group contains another Chinese star and snooker’s man of the moment, Zhang Anda, fresh from his weekend triumph in the International Championship.
There are still a limited number of tickets available across the week, starting from £15 a session.