China Open final
News, Ranking, Tournaments

China Open Final: Mark Selby vs Barry Hawkins

The final of the lucrative China Open will be contested between Mark Selby and Barry Hawkins on Sunday in Beijing.

China Open final
Can Hawkins stop Selby from earning another monster cheque? Photo credit: World Snooker

The English pair emerged from their semi-finals on Saturday to set up the showdown for glory, with a whopping £225,000 on offer for the champion.

The champion’s cheque, which is more than double the runner-up prize, will be the largest to ever be awarded in a tournament staged outside the UK.

Hawkins was the first to book his spot in the final after a 10-6 victory over Neil Robertson in which he was always one step in front of the Australian.

Meanwhile, it took Mark Selby until almost midnight local time to get passed Kyren Wilson, who fought back from 5-1 and 8-5 down to restore parity before the defending champion dug deep to grind out the triumph.

Selby hasn’t lost in the China Open since 2014 – emerging victorious in the capital city in 2015 and again twelve months ago, either side of not entering the 2016 edition.

The “Jester” had entered this week suffering from a prolonged period of poor form, by his high standards at least, but once again has managed to raise his game at just the right time.

Selby has had a canny knack of discovering his A-game when the stakes are at their highest and the jackpot available at its most rewarding.

The 34 year-old has won the last two World Championships, the last two International Championships, and a UK Championship in that period to boot, making it understandable to acknowledge how he has established such a substantial lead at the summit of the world rankings standings.

The three-time world champion will head into the best of 21 frames decider with Hawkins as the favourite but it would be unwise to completely rule out the latter, who himself is experiencing a timely return to form.

Hawkins revealed a well-documented personal issue during his run to the final of the Welsh Open last month that explained some of his early exits in the first half of the campaign but the “Hawk” is now firmly back to his best.

The 38 year-old fought back from behind to pip Cao Yupeng and Tom Ford in a couple of deciding frame clinchers to reach the last four.

Hawkins then demonstrated his prowess for the longer format, highlighted by a brilliant record at the Crucible in the last five years, in a controlled display against formidable opposition in Robertson.

The head-to-head record between Hawkins and Selby makes for interesting reading ahead of Sunday’s China Open final clash, with the scores locked at an even seven wins apiece.

Perhaps even more intriguing is that Hawkins has prevailed in both of the duo’s multi-session encounters, with a brace of triumphs over his countryman in the World Championship – albeit those battles occurred before Selby had become a Crucible champion for the first time.

While Selby will be chasing a 14th ranking title, Hawkins could bag a fourth and one that would undoubtedly count as the biggest of his career.

Who will end up with his name etched on the trophy?

Live coverage of the China Open final will be on Eurosport and Quest TV.

Click here to view the draw. (Times: CET)

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