Ebdon and Hawkins to Meet In Australian Final

Having captured his first ranking event title in three years back in April at the China Open, Peter Ebdon is now back in another final as he continued his run in Bendigo with a 6-2 victory against Marco Fu today. Standing between him and a tenth major trophy is Barry Hawkins, through to the first ranking event final of his 16-year professional career…

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He might not be the most popular player with all snooker fans, but nobody can deny the class of Peter Ebdon, who approaching 42 years of age has proven this year that he remains a force at the very highest level in the sport.

Today he booked his place in a 17th career ranking event final with a 6-2 victory against Hong Kong’s Marco Fu in what was a closer match than the scoreline would suggest. Having come through deciding frames in each of his previous three matches, Peter was able to take the early initiative to lead 2-0 against Marco, before the former Grand Prix champion hit back with a match-high break of 108 to get his first frame on the board.

Peter though was not to be unnerved, taking the next two frames either side of the interval to lead 4-1, a position from which he never looked like losing.

There is just something about Ebdon that when he gets on a roll like this, as he did in Beijing both in 2009 and earlier this year, there is a sense that he is just not going to lose, something borne out by the statistic that he has won eight of his last 11 ranking event finals over a period of 15 years. Hitting the ball as well as he is and with the tables fast and to his liking (always crucial for Peter), will his momentum take him to a tenth title now?

Hoping to stop him will be Barry Hawkins, who today won a tremendous match with friend and On-Q Promotions stable-mate Mark Davis 6-4 to reach the final of a ranking event for the first time in his professional career. Though the match did not contain a century break, it was a high-quality tussle throughout and from 4-4 it was Barry who managed to add the two frames that he needed in order to seal victory.

It has been a long time coming for Barry, but it is great to see him through to a final for the first time, particularly as having reached four semi-finals previously between 2005-7 and moved up into the top 16, he has since struggled to make it back to the latter stages of ranking events.

As he demonstrated today though, despite a relatively lean spell, he remains a dangerous player and has fully justified my faith in picking him as my tip for the final in my pre-tournament preview. Can he yet prove me wrong though by going all the way?

For me Ebdon has to be the favourite going into the match, as described above, invariably when he does go well in a tournament, he ends up taking home the trophy and you can be sure that he will give every shot his full attention during the best of 17 frames final. Interestingly though, Hawkins leads their previous meetings 8-2 in all competitions…

The good news too is that at least the opening session of the final will be covered on Eurosport from 5am UK time, while it will also be available on the usual live streaming sites.