Barry Hawkins: Crucible's 'nearly man' relaxed about winning world title

Barry Hawkins
Barry Hawkins has won three ranking titles in his career
Betfred World Snooker Championship
Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 20 April-6 May
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC Two, Red Button, iPlayer, Connected TV, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app.

Barry Hawkins has become the Crucible's nearly man in recent years - but insists he's not bothered whether he shakes that tag off.

The world number nine thrashed China's Li Hang 10-1 on Wednesday to set up a World Championship second-round meeting with Kyren Wilson on Sunday.

The 2013 runner-up has reached at least the semi-final in five of the past six years.

"If it happens one day, it happens," the Kent potter said.

"If it doesn't, it doesn't. It's not the end of the world. I've been so close, but yet so far away. But if I thought about it too much, I would drive myself mad.

"It's a game of snooker at the end of the day and I know it sounds morbid but when we're all gone, no one really cares.

"So I try to enjoy myself off the table, try to have a good life and try to appreciate what we've got. I don't want to think about losing a semi-final too much, it's not that important really."

Despite his stellar Crucible record, Hawkins dismissed his title chances after an underwhelming season that has featured eight first-round exits in 16 ranking events.

He did reach the semi-finals of the World Open and World Grand Prix, plus the final of the invitational Shanghai Masters, but said he was "nowhere near one of the favourites".

"I know I've obviously got a good record here and gone deep a few times but there are too many other class players here, former world champions, so I'm not considering myself a dark horse," he added.

Hawkins, who turned 40 on Tuesday, failed to win a match on his first five visits to Sheffield between 2006 and 2010 and admitted he cannot explain the subsequent upturn in his Crucible fortunes.

"I haven't got a clue. It's weird," he said. "Maybe sometimes I lack motivation throughout the season but I know coming here, if you don't put the work in, you are going to get found out.

"Coming here, you get inspired, the nerves kick in, it's a great arena to play in, packed audiences all the time and that excites me. I seem to manage to get my head down, perhaps that's the reason."

Sign up to My Sport to follow snooker news on the BBC app.

Top Stories