Hawkins joins Masters

BARRY Hawkins was the toast of Sheffield as he beat Kurt Maflin in this year's Masters qualifying final at the English Institute of Sport.

The Dartford left-hander emerged 6-4 winner on the last day of this year's six-day tournament.

And with victory the World No 19 was rewarded with a wild card entry to the most prestigious invitational event on the snooker calendar, which takes place at Wembley Arena in January.

There, the player nicknamed 'The Hawk', will face either six-time World champion Steve Davis or this season's Shanghai Masters runner-up, Ryan Day.

"I felt confident at the start and to win it is a massive bonus, especially as I’ve beaten some very good players," said Hawkins.

The 28-year-old, a four-time ranking event semi-finalist, struggled for form for much of last season when he was ranked among the top 16 for the first time, his only highlight a run to the semi-finals of the China Open.

But he added: "Hopefully it will help get my career back on track. It gives me a real boost for the ranking events coming up. Last season was a nightmare!.”

A break of 49 saw Hawkins pinched the first frame, before Maflin, a 24-year-old Londoner now based in Norway, rallied with a cool 110 break.

Hawkins edged to a 3-1 mid-session interval lead courtesy of runs of 55, 41 and 38, but his opponent pocketed a 45 break to win the first frame following the resumption.

The sixth frame went to Hawkins on the final black, only for Maflin to reduce his arrears again, winning the seventh frame on points 72-35.

Hawkins had further breaks of 55 and 49, but leading 5-3 missed his chance to win as Maflin won the frame on another deciding black.

But the end was not far around the corner as Hawkins finished in style with a superb 80 break.