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World Snooker Championship semi-finals: Murphy meets Hawkins

Shaun Murphy’s quest to secure his second Crucible crown a decade on from his maiden triumph continues as he faces Barry Hawkins in a World Snooker Championship semi-final showdown.

‘The Hawk’, who conquered Neil Robertson by overcoming the 2010 world champion 13-12 in a thrilling deciding frame to set up an exciting encounter with ‘the Magician’ and reach his third consecutive semi-final in Sheffield.

Five-time Crucible king Ronnie O’Sullivan eliminated ‘the Hawk’ from the tournament in each of the last years but, with his constant conqueror emphatically sent packing by Stuart Bingham, Hawkins can now see a clearer path to glory (7/4 with Coral to topple Murphy).

Although, the Kent-born cueist will now come up against a tough competitor in Murphy, who is the only former world champion left in this prestigious event, and the 2005 Crucible winner is an odds-on 4/9 favourite to out-gun his opposition.

World number five Hawkins has come up against Murphy at the semi-final stage of a ranking event before, when the potting pair collided in the 2006 Welsh Open last four, as ‘the Magician’ cruised to a comfortable 6-1 triumph.

The Hawk overcame world number two Robertson in an exhilarating final frame face-off, but is aware of the tough challenge ahead of him in his latest semi-final appearance.

“Shaun is flying. He’s had a great season. He’s put in the hours practising and is getting the rewards. Everyone knows how attacking he is, but it’s nice I’m not playing Ronnie in the semis,” said Hawkins.

The fierce Crucible competitor entered into a high-class final session with his Australian counterpart with an 8-7 lead, in a match which saw a record eight centuries for a best of 25 frames clash, but he emerged victorious with a tense break of 61. He is available at 16/1 to secure a second consecutive deciding frame triumph.

“I thought I’d blown it in the final frame after he fluked the first red, but I didn’t expect him to miss the brown and then I was just trying to pick the balls off,” Hawkins continued.

His semi-final opponent is aiming to make history in Yorkshire by becoming only the fifth player after Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, Ray Reardon and Mark Williams to win both the Masters and World title in a calendar year.

The 5/2 second favourite to reign at the Crucible recently ended a seven-year wait to complete a Triple Crown coup at the Masters, having already earned a world crown 10 years ago and UK Championship victory in 2008, and he will provide a stern match-up with Hawkins.