Weary world number one Mark Selby staggered to a dismal Crucible defeat as his dream of completing snooker’s ’triple crown’ was dashed by a stunning Barry Hawkins comeback.
From 9-6 in front in the second round of the Betfair World Championship, Selby’s game collapsed and Hawkins secured a 13-10 victory.
Hawkins wept tears of joy after reaching the quarter-finals for the first time, while Selby reasoned that burnout was a factor in his defeat.
When the tears came in his post-match press conference, Hawkins said: “It’s one of the best results of my life, I can’t believe I’m getting emotional.
“You’d think I’ve won the World Championship but I’m only in the quarter-finals – what a nutter.”
Selby said: “I had no drive, no buzz. Anyone can accept losing but the way I played, I didn’t really turn up.
“This year I’ve played in almost everything and I just feel as though I’ve burned myself out playing too much.”
The rot set in early today, Selby reaching 48 in the first frame of the session before leaving himself a tricky red and fluffing the cut.
The misses kept coming from the 29-year-old Leicester man, many of them quite staggering. All Hawkins needed to do was hold his game together and he punched the air in delight once victory was secure.
Selby had won the UK Championship and Masters already this season, but a World Championship title remains elusive. He reached the 2007 final but has not been back.
Only three players – Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis and Mark Williams – have won all three of the majors in a single season.
Selby said: “I’ve had the best season I’ve ever had and to perform like that is a disappointing way to end it.
“I was just flat really. I don’t know if it’s because of the long season, travelling here, there and everywhere.”
Hawkins accepted the snooker on show was nothing to shout about, saying: “It wasn’t a pretty match. Every shot was a pint of blood and I battled so hard and got the result in the end.”
Now the 33-year-old Kent man, ranked 14th in the world, has his eyes on going all the way in Sheffield.
Hawkins said: “I suppose everyone left in the tournament will think they can win it now, otherwise it’s not worth turning up. I’m in the last eight; I know there’s such a long way to go but if I can find some fluent form you never know.”
Next for Hawkins will be Ding Junhui or Mark King, who were getting their second-round match under way this evening.
Judd Trump was eventually a comfortable 13-7 winner against Marco Fu and will face the 2005 champion Shaun Murphy next.
Despite suffering a series of rocky results since winning the International Championship in the autumn, Trump is fancying his chances of landing a first world title this year.
The 23-year-old said: “I think in my first match and the start of this match I felt the best I have done in a long while. I felt very confident.”
He added: “I’ll be prepared for Shaun and it’ll be a tough game. I don’t really rate the other players. I think if I play my best game then I’ll beat them.
“In my opinion I haven’t been playing badly.
“In the quarter-finals there’s only eight players left so I’ve got a good chance.”
Trump agreed with Selby that players have arrived at the end-of-season World Championship fatigued from their hectic campaigns.
Selby, John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Stephen Maguire, Mark Williams and Mark Allen have all crashed out before the quarter-final stage.
“I don’t see them as upsets,” Trump said. “Coming into the tournament I felt the people that haven’t played as much would do well and the people who have played at every tournament would burn themselves out and that seems to have been the case.
“I was surprised John went out, but the rest of the players didn’t really surprise me.”
Ronnie O’Sullivan features in the same side of the draw as Trump and Murphy, which could result in a heavyweight semi-final. O’Sullivan finished the first session of his match against Ali Carter, the man he beat in last year’s final, with a 5-3 advantage.