- World Snooker Championship
Hawkins rallies back to spook Walden
Barry Hawkins and Ricky Walden will enter the final session of their semi-final on level terms at the Crucible, after an impressive rally from Hawkins on Saturday.
Hawkins was 12-8 down midway through the second session of their World Championship contest but, after winning a crucial 22nd frame, stormed back to restore parity at 12-12 going into the evening's concluding session.
Starting the day 9-7 ahead, it was Walden who made the early running - moving into the ascendancy at 12-8 by the mid-session interval. But Hawkins came back a renewed man, immediately chalking off one of those frames with a break of 104.
At 12-9 in Walden's favour, then came a crucial frame that could yet decide the course of the semi-final. Lasting for an hour, the two players traded short breaks and impressive safety play, with Walden eventually sitting on an eight-point advantage with just the blue, pink and black to clear.
After Hawkins potted the blue to reduce the arrears it appeared Walden would snatch the frame when an inadvertent double of the pink came out of the jaws into a potable position - but Walden missed his shot, with Hawkins eventually nailing a long pot and clearing the black to move back within two frames of his opponent.
That seemed to unsettle Walden, while Hawkins became even more confident. He looked well on course to claim a third straight frame after a clever break in the next, before a straightforward missed pink threatened to let Walden back in. But Walden was unable to take advantage, as the gap was reduced to just one.
Walden enjoyed the early advantage in the final frame of the session, rolling in a long red before dispatching the black as it sat over the pocket. But an unforced error allowed Hawkins back to the table, before he - perhaps letting nerves finally affect him - also found himself stumped after removing a first red.
After a period of safety play Hawkins broke for the finish with a break of 46 and - at the second time of asking - that proved good enough to get him to the evening on level terms.