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Barry Hawkins says lockdown came at ‘perfect time’ after smooth Crucible opener

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The 2013 finalist defeated Swiss debutant Alexander Ursenbacher 10-2 in the first round in Sheffield.

Barry Hawkins beat Alexander Ursenbacher 10-2 at the Crucible (John Walton/PA).

Barry Hawkins admitted after thrashing Alexander Ursenbacher at the World Championship that he had been “getting a little bit sick of snooker” prior to lockdown.

Hawkins, having gone into Wednesday afternoon’s session 7-2 up in the first-round contest, swiftly added the three frames he needed without a reply from his Swiss opponent.

The 2013 finalist was asked afterwards if, with his form having not been at its best this season, lockdown had come at a good time for him.

And he said: “It came at the perfect time for me because I was just at that point where I was just getting a little bit sick of snooker, and I think to be honest with you a lot of players were.

“We’ve played so much over the last few years. I think it was just starting to drain me a little bit. It was nice to put the cue away. I didn’t hit a ball for three months.

“It was nice just to spend some time at home – although after a month or two you are starting to go a bit stir crazy. I was actually looking forward to playing again. I’ve got a new cue now and it’s given me that little extra incentive to go and practise.

“I’ve tried to change my lifestyle a little bit, the fitness, healthy body, healthy mind. I’m going to try to keep it going and hopefully I can start producing some of the form I’ve showed before.”

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Asked if the number of tournaments needed to be cut down, Hawkins said: “I’m not sure because we want as many tournaments as possible.

“Sometimes the scheduling, I know it can’t be helped because of venues and logistics, but sometimes the back-to-back tournaments are quite tough.

“I know a lot of players would ideally love a little space in between so they can go home and prepare properly for the next tournament.

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“Sometimes they are so close together you feel like you just are living out of a suitcase, going from one to the next, and you end up sometimes picking bad habits up along the way.”

Barry Hawkins was a World Championship finalist in 2012 (John Walton/PA).
Barry Hawkins was a World Championship finalist in 2013 (John Walton/PA)

He added: “It was a much-needed break, much-needed time just to switch off, relax and chill.

“Then I was ready to start practising again and I really enjoyed just trying to put the hours in and going around playing a few players again. We’ll see how long it lasts!”

Hawkins, who will face Neil Robertson in round two, punished mistakes by 24-year-old Crucible debutant Ursenbacher, the first Swiss player to appear in the tournament’s finals.

The 41-year-old, who posted a break of 84 in Wednesday’s opening frame, said: “I’m pleased with how I concentrated. A couple of mistakes but I’m pleased to get through.

“I know he (Ursenbacher) is a dangerous player. I think a bit more experience under Alexander’s belt will probably develop his all-round game a bit better. It’s tough coming here first time. I think I lost 10-1, so he did a bit better than I did.”

Four-time winner John Higgins trailed Kurt Maflin 5-3 in their second-round match.

Maflin bounced back from a slow start by winning four frames in a row to go 4-2 up, before Higgins responded with a break of 101 and reduced the deficit. Maflin then made a break of 81 as he re-established a two-frame lead.

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