Neither man could find their best form with any kind of regularity in the quarter-final contest at Alexandra Palace and the Hawk will be very disappointed he couldn’t capitalise on the chance for a rare victory over the Rocket.
Things had looked good early on when O’Sullivan knocked in an 88 to take the first frame, while Hawkins made back-to-back half-centuries to go 3-2 ahead after the invterval.
Then came a lot of misses and mistakes from both players in the following frames, but it was O’Sullivan who was managing to win frames, taking the next two close ones before a break of 60 to go 5-3 up.
Hawkins again had a chance in the 9th, going 50 points ahead, but missed a red to middle and the Rocket stepped in to win frame and match impressively, looking as good as he had all day as he made 77.
It is rare that an O’Sullivan match of this length will go by without a century scored, but it matters not, with the Rocket able to regroup and go again on Saturday against either Jack Lisowski or Shaun Murphy in the semi-finals.
‘I just feel sorry for Barry. He was playing good until he started playing me and I just dragged him down to the most awful standard of snooker,’ said O’Sullivan.
‘So I’m really sorry about that today. I’m just lucky to get through.’
‘I felt good going into the game today and I felt good out there,’ Hawkins told the BBC. ‘For some reason your mind wanders a bit when you play Ronnie. I let him off the hook, I had enough chances.
‘Kept losing the white today, the cue ball wasn’t very good. I had plenty of chances, no complaints. It’s the way it goes.’
Hawkins added on Eurosport: ‘It’s just frustrating because normally all season you’d take them chances and win the frames, but when you don’t do it…it’s just frustrating.’
O’Sullivan said he apologised to Hawkins at the end, believing his opponent would have stepped things up if he had played better himself.
‘I said sorry mate, I felt bad for him because if I’d have played alright, he’d have played alright,’ said the Rocket.
‘I’ve just got this ability that if I play bad they play even worse. Not everybody, some of the guys punish me, but it’s just how it is.’
For more stories like this, check our sport page.
Follow Metro Sport for the latest news on
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.