World Snooker quarter-finals: Hope for Hawkins in Thunder clash

Former World Snooker Championship finalist Barry Hawkins has won both of his meetings with 2010 Crucible king Neil Robertson, and only trails ‘the Thunder from Down Under’ 7-5 in their overall head-to-heads.

This hands ‘the Hawk’ real hope of causing an upset, but he is still a 3/1 outsider with Coral to defeat Aussie potter Robertson in the quarters, having turned Mark Allen around from 11-8 down by winning five frames in a row in the second round.

Nonetheless, only Ronnie O’Sullivan (13/8) is more fancied to lift this year’s world title than the Thunder, who is 3/1 after crushing qualifier Jamie Jones 10-2 and Ali Carter 13-5 (here making the tournament’s highest break to date of 145) en route to the last eight.

Robertson revealed how his preparations for another tilt at the Crucible crown this year involve a vegan diet. “I haven’t prepared as well for a World Championship, or any tournament, as I have for this one,” he said.

“I used to feel very tired during tournaments. I was drinking four or five coffees per day and felt I needed more. Now I’m able to practice an awful lot more without getting tired.”

Although this battle is between two potters ranked fourth and fifth best respectively, that is not reflected in the match betting. Robertson is a strong odds-on 1/4 favourite to beat Hawkins because he has dominated longer frame format fixtures.

These two have never met in a best of 25 battle, but handsome wins in first to five and six frames encounters do justify the Thunder’s tag as a strong favourite. Robertson has reached the last four in three of his last six visits to Sheffield, although Hawkins also made that stage or better in his last two Crucible visits.

Australia’s finest potting export is also odds-on in the race to four, eight and 12 frames markets, and a 5/2 chance to win his opening session against the Hawk 5-3. It appears unlikely to go the distance, with long odds of 7/1 saying there shall be a deciding frame.