Barry Hawkins whitewashed Mark Allen 6-0 in the first round of the Masters as the former champion’s pathetic last tournament form continued at Alexandra Palace.
Allen lifted the title in 2018 but hasn’t won a single game since then and has managed just 45 points against the left-handed Hawkins who was runner-up to Neil Robertson 12 months ago.
Hawkins, who will face either Judd Trump or Ryan Day in the quarter-finals, told the BBC: “I think the result flatters me a bit. I think my safety really won the game. I played a lot with a lot of safety and created chances that way.
“I think if I had been ultra-critical I might have scored a bit more, but I kept Mark under pressure and didn’t make too many mistakes – very few easy, unforced mistakes – and I think that ultimately made the difference. “
Hawkins recovered from a 55-0 lead in Game 1 to win in colours, with 76 and 114 breaks, then extended his lead.
Allen looked poised to make it to the scoreboard in a poor fourth frame, only to cut through the bronze and leave it behind a corner pocket, and Hawkins cleared to go ahead before going 5-0 with 45 and 41 breaks.
After recovering from 6-1 and beating Ding Junhui 10-7 in the British Championship final in November, Allen still had a glimmer of hope, but the Northern Irishman could not replicate such heroism, and Hawkins sealed an impressive victory. .
“For the first time I didn’t have that much free time (at Christmas), I had a few days off here and there but I still went to the club because I knew this tournament was coming up and it’s not where you want to come here and be unprepared,” added Hawkins.
“I thought I’d keep my head down, and today it paid off.”
A disappointed Allen was quick to pay tribute to Hawkins, telling Eurosport: “I probably should have won the first frame and had a few chances in the fourth frame, other than that I thought he was phenomenal.
“Some of his saves were ridiculously good. Several times I walked up to the table scratching my head, I had no shot.
“I told him at the end it was probably one of the best safety performances I’ve played against as a professional. Granted, I missed a few balls too, but I have to admit Barry just froze me. It was a phenomenal performance.”