Hawk Ready to Soar
A relaxing summer break has left Barry Hawkins ready to regain his best form in the new season.
World number eight Hawkins elected to miss the Australian Goldfields Open in order to give him a full two months to recharge his batteries, and he’s now looking forward to getting back on the baize at next week’s Kaspersky Lab Riga Open.
Last season was a disappointing one for the 36-year-old Kent-based potter as he failed to add to the glut of titles he had captured over the previous two years.
The nadir came at the UK Championship when he lost 6-5 to Nigel Bond, squandering a 5-0 lead. For a long spell in the middle of the campaign, Hawkins struggled for form and motivation.
But the two-time ranking event winner finished strongly at the Betfred World Championship – reaching the semi-finals for the third consecutive year – and hopes to continue in the same vein as his 2015/16 season gets underway.
Hawkins feels that planning his schedule carefully this time will help maintain impetus over the next ten months.
“There were times last season when I felt fed up with snooker and I was just going through the motions,” he said. “I deserved to lose that match against Nigel Bond because my attitude was all wrong. It gave me the kick up the bum that I needed.
“This season, whether I’m winning or losing I want to enjoy it and look forward to each tournament. I decided not to go to Australia and I’m not going to enter the Six-Red in Thailand either. I’m going to play in all the ranking events, but I will be a bit more selective than I have been in the past, so I can prepare properly and be fresh for the tournaments I do play in. It might not work, but it’s something I want to try.
“I’m not the best traveller. My son Harrison is six now, which is a great age and we do a lot of stuff together. So it’s horrible when I have to go away for two or three weeks at a time.
“It’s been good to have a proper break over the summer. After Sheffield we went to Tenerife for a week, and we also had a camping weekend on the south coast. Harrison loves that as well as kick-boxing, swimming and football – he plays the odd game of pool but he’s too busy for snooker!
“I got back to practice a couple of weeks ago and I’m looking forward to Latvia now. My main goal this season is to win a tournament, ideally one of the big ranking events. It’s tough to win an event now so just to get one title in a season is a good achievement.
“I finished last season well and showed a very good attitude at the last couple of events so I want to keep that frame of mind throughout the season. In the past few years I’ve gone to the Crucible really up for it, feeling the buzz and adrenaline, and that’s why I’ve done well there. I’ve shown I can beat the best players on the big stage which is pleasing.
“When I played Shaun Murphy in the semis this time I struggled a bit with stamina so I’m also looking at ways to get fitter. Although I do spend a couple of hours a day walking the dog.
“I’m not getting any younger but hopefully I’ve got at least another four or five years at this level and I’ll be giving it my best.”
Left-hander Hawkins turned pro in 1996, and after years of waiting for a breakthrough, won his first televised title at the 2012 Shoot-Out. Later that year he captured his first ranking crown in Australia, and in 2014 he landed the £100,000 top prize at the Players Championship. He is also the only man to appear in the last four in Sheffield in each of the last three years, and was runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2013.
Hawkins, who practises at Jordan’s in Rainham with Gerard Greene as his main sparring partner, cites the coaching of Terry Griffiths as a huge factor in his emergence as one of the world’s top ten. So he is delighted that his relationship with the 1979 World Championship is an ongoing one.
“When On Q Promotions came to an end Terry wasn’t sure of his plans, but I knew he wanted to carry on working with me,” said Hawkins. “It was a no brainer for me after the way he has helped me in recent years. I discussed the schedule with him and he agreed it was a good idea for me to miss a couple of overseas events this year. He was a bad traveller back in the 1980s and he says I’m even worse than him.”