Yesterday in Alexandra Palace brought two completely different matches.
The afternoon match saw Judd Trump get the better of Barry Hawkins in a deciding frame. Judd found something towards the end of the match but had been dire for most of it. Barry Hawkins was nowhere near the form who had shown in beating Mark Allen. If Allen watched him play yesterday he probably felt really aggrieved. Overall it was pretty awful.
Trump Finds Extra Gear To Beat Hawkins
Judd Trump came through a second consecutive 6-5 thriller, making superb breaks in the last two frames as he came from 5-4 down to beat Barry Hawkins in the quarter-finals of the Cazoo Masters.
Trump could be forgiven for wondering if he is destined for the title this week as he recovered a 5-3 deficit to win 6-5 in his opening match against Ryan Day, and rose to the occasion again when it mattered most today. It’s a measure of revenge for the Bristol player as he lost 6-5 to Hawkins in the semi-finals a year ago.
Flamboyant Trump was inspired by roar from the crowd as the players shook hands before the deciding frame. “That was one of the loudest cheers I have ever heard,” said the world number four, who will meet Shaun Murphy or Stuart Bingham on Saturday at 7pm. “It was my break and I could have got down a bit sooner, but I wanted to soak it all in and let them get as loud as possible, and enjoy it as much as I could. When that kind of thing happens it helps to relax me, it’s not often you get to experience that.”
Trump is aiming to win the Masters for the second time having lifted the trophy in 2019, and is into the semi-finals for the sixth occasion. The 33-year-old is also chasing his first title since he won the Turkish Masters in March 2022.
In the opening frame, Trump got the better of a safety battle on the penultimate red and cleared the table to go 1-0 up. Hawkins responded with a break of 110 then got the better of frame three to lead 2-1, before Trump levelled with a run of 69. In the fifth, Hawkins led 44-5 when he missed the black off its spot, and Trump punished him with a run of 61 to edge ahead.
Hawkins missed frame-ball red at 61-6 in the sixth, but Trump’s hopes of snatching it ended when he missed a difficult thin cut on the black after potting the last red. World number 13 Hawkins compiled a break of 66 to lead 4-3, then Trump replied with a tremendous 143 total clearance, his highest ever break in the Masters and equalling the best of the week, set by Mark Williams then matched by Hossein Vafaei. In frame nine, Hawkins led 49-0 when he missed a straight-forward black, but got back in by fluking a red and added the points he needed to lead 5-4. Back came Trump with a 107 clearance to set up the decider.
Hawkins had first chance but potted just a red and yellow before missing an awkward red to a top corner. Trump needed only one opportunity, making 81 to reach his only semi-final this season other than the Cazoo Champion of Champions.
“I felt in control at the end, as if I knew I was going to clear up,” added Trump. “I made some good breaks from 4-3 down. I had to hang in there at the start when I was struggling, but towards the end I felt that if I could get my hand on the table I was going to score heavily. It’s a nice feeling to win another close one. It gives me confidence to do that when my back was against the wall.”
Hawkins said: “I kept playing loose positional shots which was frustrating. The standard improved in the second half of the match and Judd made a good break in the last frame. I was stretching on the red I missed and concentrating on getting the right angle on the black. I had my chance. Judd’s still nowhere near as good as he can be, but he probably deserved to win today.”
Bingham Crushes Murphy To Reach Semis
Stuart Bingham moved within two wins of a second Cazoo Masters title as he stormed to an emphatic 6-0 victory over Shaun Murphy in the quarter-finals.
The 2,000 strong crowd at Alexandra Palace may have expected a close contest between these two rivals, a repeat of the 2015 World Championship final, but it was Bingham at the table for most of the evening as he dominated the tie, making two centuries and two more breaks over 60. The match lasted just 92 minutes as Basildon’s Bingham marched into his fourth Masters semi-final.
At 7pm on Saturday he will face Judd Trump, the same player he beat 17-16 to reach the Crucible final eight years ago. This time the winner will go up against Mark Williams or Jack Lisowski in Sunday’s final.
World number 14 Bingham, who beat Ali Carter here in the 2020 final, has been the most prolific scorer of the week so far having made five centuries. That’s some turnaround in form for the 46-year-old who struggled through the first half of the season, failing to reach a single quarter-final.
The opening frame came down to a safety tussle on the colours, and Ball-Run enjoyed a slice of good fortune with a fluke on the green which set him up for 1-0. But there was nothing lucky about his performance over the next three frames as breaks of 78, 128 and 107 stretched his lead to 4-0.
In frame five, Murphy trailed 26-30 when he missed a long red, and Bingham punished him to extend his advantage. And after gaining 24 points in fouls early in the sixth, Bingham added a run of 65 to seal the result.
“I felt nervous just before we went out, but when I walked out – what an atmosphere it was,” said Bingham. “Once I sat in my chair I was able to focus. I got a bit lucky in the first frame which settled me down, and after that I went from strength to strength. Shaun missed a couple and I cleared up what he left me – it was an unbelievable performance.
“This crowd is second to none – it’s an honour to play out there. I have been on both ends of it – I have been embarrassed and ashamed. But when you play like that it’s the best place ever.
“If I play like this I’m sure I’ll give Judd a good match. I’m riding a wave and long may it continue. The way I’m playing I back myself, but Judd can turn it on when he needs to.”
Murphy said: “It was an incredible performance from Stuart and I could do nothing about it. I had a half chance in the first and fifth frames, apart from that I felt very comfortable in the chair. My safety was good but he dropped in two great long pots in the second and third frames. If he plays like that he’ll win, he was absolutely phenomenal. My preparation for this match was very good but I was beaten by someone who played like a super hero.”
I must admit that I didn’t see any of it as I watched young Ben Mertens beat Barry Pinches by 4-0 in the 2013 Welsh Open Qualifiers and chased scores – as did every other member of the snooker.org team – because the live scores in Barnsley were playing disappearing act every odd minute!