Hello everyone, Lee Jackson here reporting to you from the Coventry Building Society Arena in Coventry ahead of the 2021 Cazoo World Grand Prix First Round. Today’s match features Triple Crown winner and current World Number One, ‘The Jester from Leicester’, Mark Selby and 2016/17 World Grand Prix winner, ‘The Hawk’, Barry Hawkins.
A difference in careers between the pair with one of the best safety players the game has ever seen in Selby. A staggering 20 ranking event titles to his name looking for a 21st this week despite having a poor season by his standards. On the other hand, Hawkins who unlike Selby has lifted this title in the 2016/17 campaign after an incredible performance throughout will be looking to replicate it this time around.
Selby will see this as a good opportunity to get back to the form he showed last season picking up the European Masters, Scottish Open and the World Championship. He reached the semi-finals last time around but was beaten by an unplayable Jack Lisowski narrowly missing out on his first World Grand Prix title. A disappointing 2021 Scottish Open for the holder as he exited early being beaten by Anthony McGill which will put pressure on Selby to kickstart his season with a victory today.
Hawkins will be looking to claim his second World Grand Prix title aiming to add to his three ranking event triumphs. ‘The Hawk’ has hit 395 centuries so far in his career and will be hoping to replicate and go one better than the seven centuries (five in the final) he recorded in his 2016/17 Grand Prix title victory. On the way to lifting the title, he beat Kyren Wilson, Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, Liang Wenbo eventually winning 10-7 against Ryan Day in the final.
Good friends on and off the table, the pair will be looking at this clash with a little less pressure but it won’t take away the fact that they’ll both want to do well in this tournament and kickstart their respective seasons. It’s close on the head to head with Selby just edging it 10-8 but Hawkins is no slouch and will be hoping he can balance that record out some more today.
The MC for the event Tahir Hajat welcomes the players to the arena with a place in the next round up for grabs as the race to four frames gets underway here in Coventry.
Selby (4) 0 – 0 (37) Hawkins – Hawkins is in with the first chance after a brash effort at a long red to the bottom right misses. Out of position he pulls a nice recovery pot from the hat on the blue to keep the break progressing but a pack split doesn’t go to plan as he loses position which means end of break. Hawkins is soon back in though after a poor safety shot from Selby leaves a shot to nothing which tucks the cue ball right in behind the green. Snookered by the green, three escape attempts later he makes it and Hawkins fouls immediately as his attempt at a safety goes in off straight into the yellow pocket.
Selby (67) 0 – 0 (44) Hawkins – Selby is starting to get a feel for the cloth here after some beautifully calculated positional shots get him right back in the frame registering 36 points and counting. ‘The Hawk’ gets his claws back onto the table and he’ll be happy to see a lonely red on the bottom cushion in which Selby needs. An intriguing safety exchange as Hawkins is really trading blow for blow with Selby in that department. The colours keep being knocked towards the cushions but there’s not much he can do.
Selby (67) 0 – 0 (63) Hawkins – A masterclass in safety play? Or a tedious sequence of play? It depends on what style of snooker you prefer as this frame has been going on for 41 minutes so far. Like a chess match with both players trying to force the other into an error. Both players need the colours back in play and that’s exactly what’s happening. Hawkins hits a well struck yellow followed by the green but doesn’t get good enough position for the blue. He opts to play safe and Selby aids his cause even further with a dreadful shot which almost sees the blue tieter over the left middle but reprieve as The Jester sees it trickle safe.
Selby (73) 0 – 0 (68) Hawkins – Selby looked like he was getting to grips with the table but again he concedes a chance on the blue. Hawkins sinks it home with excellence and he needs just the pink and black to take the first frame but somehow he’s missed a relatively straightforward pink to the bottom left. Selby comes to the table and makes no mistake in firing home the pink and black to steal the first frame.
🎱 Selby 1 – 0 Hawkins
Selby (0) 1 – 0 (54) Hawkins – The break hasn’t been kind to either player and 49 minutes for the first frame looks like it could be eclipsed. The reds haven’t spread well and are hampering one another but it’s Hawkins slices in a pot and starts to build. It comes to an abrupt end after a well manufactured break of 54 as he misses a tough pot on a red from hampered cueing but does so with an element of safety leaving the white in baulk.
Selby (0) 1 – 0 (79) Hawkins – The World Number One is not at the races yet despite some top draw safety play as he leaves a red and Hawkins obliges and convincingly sees off the frame adding a further 25 points and equalising the match at one frame a piece.
🎱 Selby 1 – 1 Hawkins
Selby (23) 1 – 1 (0) Hawkins – An excelling safety battle is occurring yet again with Selby getting a chance early in this third frame but goes onto lose position on a break of 14. The highest so far this match is a mere 28 with the standard of scoring not being great but the safety display has been immaculate. Hawkins has a tame effort at a red and hopes for the best but doesn’t get it as the white is just below the baulk area.
Selby (53) 1 – 1 (15) Hawkins – A break of 52 is all Selby can muster as he leaves the white tight to the top cushion. Hawkins hands him a chance with a poor safety but Selby can’t capitalise as he misses a long red to the bottom left by a country mile. Hawkins goes about breakbuilding but can only manage 15 as he misses a bad yellow clattering through a bunch of reds. Selby will be licking his lips at this as he goes on to make an additional 30 points taking him to 53 which is enough for him to claim his second frame.
🎱 Selby 2 – 1 Hawkins
Selby (34) 2 – 1 (0) Hawkins – Selby’s opportunity doesn’t last long as he only manages a red and brown with not many options elsewhere. The black is now involved amongst two reds near the bottom cushion which renders it out of use for now. He directs a safety shot towards those awkward reds which frees up the black leaving it on the green spot. Hawkins responds with a good safety but immediately Selby responds with a pot and goes about collecting some points.
Selby (64) 2 – 1 (9) Hawkins – End of break as he makes an error on 54 but he won’t feel too hard done by as the spread of reds aren’t ideal for a comeback from Hawkins. The former World Grand Prix champion plays some well thought out shots but makes a crucial error as he focuses solely on knocking reds safe he misses the black and leaves Selby to take the frame. Hawkins will be furious with himself there as he had a good chance to level the match.Embed from Getty Images
🎱 Selby 3 – 1 Hawkins
Selby (12) 3 – 1 (1) Hawkins – Absolutely granite from Selby here as he is showing why he’s one of the greats of the game. He’s not played at all to the peak of his powers but is still 3-1 ahead. Hawkins must make this frame count as he sinks a red in but forgets about potting the green and focuses on getting back amongst the reds at the other end of the table. Could Selby be finally finding his feet in the match despite still winning and not playing well as he sends the white around three cushions. He follows up with a delicious cut on a red to a blind pocket whilst being tight to the cushion. The blue follows and he looks menacing here.
Selby (58) 3 – 1 (1) Hawkins – Knocking in reds with colours and Selby pulls out the most Selby-move possible. A challenging situation presents him despite being 30 points in front so he opts for the thing he knows best and that’s safety. ‘SatNav’ Selby strikes again and pulls off a brilliant safety forcing a foul from Hawkins and he gets right back to potting to finish on 58 which is enough to see him take the frame and match.
🎱 Selby 4 – 1 Hawkins
Reflecting on the Match
After 49 minutes in a gruelling first frame, that was the theme of the match going forward. Chock full of safety battles and positional errors, the match never quite reached the heights of their previous encounters. Selby in the end stook to the task with help from Hawkins and managed a 4-1 victory although it wasn’t convincing. That is what separates Selby from the rest, his ability to stay in the match and win despite not playing to the level we know he can. He gets past Hawkins to reach the next round.