Barry Hawkins and Jackson Page will face each other in the first round of the World Championship in Sheffield.
Barry Hawkins’ season so far
It’s been an up and down campaign for Barry Hawkins, but the 42 year-old is always a dark horse in Sheffield.
Hawkins began the season slowly and has been quiet in the last couple of months, but he enjoyed a purple patch either side of Christmas in some very notable events.
After reaching the last four of the UK Championship, Hawkins went on terrific runs in both the Masters and the Players Championship.
Unfortunately, the Englishman encountered a rampant Neil Robertson in consecutive finals and was firmly denied potential glory on each occasion.
Hawkins boasts a brilliant Crucible record and has done almost everything except land the big one in Sheffield.
An appearance in the 2013 final was followed by four additional runs to the last four, and it’s been a dozen years since he was last knocked out at the opening hurdle.
Jackson Page’s season so far
Jackson Page is an undeniable talent, highlighted by an excellent 10-6 victory over David Grace on Judgement Day at the qualifiers.
The young Welshman was firing on all cylinders, particularly in the first session, as he reeled off one sizable contribution after another to seal his Crucible debut.
A former European under-21 champion, Page didn’t have an especially strong season prior to his exploits at the English Institute of Sport.
But by emerging from the first qualifying round in Sheffield, the 20 year-old has guaranteed himself a £20,000 payday.
That will set him up nicely in terms of a crack at breaking into the top 64 in the world rankings for the first time during the next campaign.
Hawkins and Page have faced each other on two previous occasion but both were contested in short formats.
The former had the upper hand in their prior meetings at the Championship League and Snooker Shoot Out events of 2020.
Some rookies take to the Crucible like a duck to water, so it will be interesting to see how an exciting prospect like Page fares.
However, Hawkins possesses a wealth of experience in that arena and will probably produce a predictably measured display regardless of the opponent.
The Hawk will also perhaps be looking at his section of the draw – which includes the struggling Mark Selby in addition to Yan Bingtao and Mark Williams – and quietly believe he can go deep again this year.
Prediction: Barry Hawkins 10-5 Jackson Page
Saturday, April 16th – 2:30pm
Sunday, April 17th – 7pm
Featured photo credit: WST