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Ronnie O'Sullivan beats Barry Hawkins 6-3 at Masters snooker to secure semi-finals place

Seven-time Masters champion stays on course for a first title since 2017 with quarter-finals win over Barry Hawkins in scrappy but closely-fought match; O'Sullivan to meet either Jack Lisowski or Shaun Murphy in Saturday's semi-final

Image: Ronnie O'Sullivan is chasing a record-extending eighth Masters title

Ronnie O'Sullivan has booked his place in a 15th Masters semi-final of his career after beating Barry Hawkins 6-3 at Alexandra Palace.

While neither player was at their best in Thursday afternoon's first quarter-final, it made for an entertaining and close match with Hawkins, the 2022 finalist, initially leading 3-2 before O'Sullivan took back control of the match to move 5-3 clear.

O'Sullivan, chasing a record-extending eighth Masters title but first since 2017, was 50-0 behind in the ninth frame as his English compatriot attempted to avoid defeat but a missed red in the right-hand middle pocket proved to be match-ending for Hawkins.

The seven-time world champion returned to the table and sealed the winning frame with an impressive break of 77, which included a sensational but expertly controlled long pot on the final red.

Missed chances proved to be Hawkins' undoing with the match having appeared to decisively turn in the seventh frame when the No 15 seed missed two pinks off the spot. O'Sullivan, despite his own missed red into the bottom right, eventually made his shots count to move 4-3 ahead, and the 48-year-old never really looked back.

Image: Hawkins let several chances slip to take control of the match

O'Sullivan will now face the winner of Thursday evening's quarter-final, Jack Lisowski vs Shaun Murphy, in the semi-finals on Saturday.

"I just feel sorry for Barry," said O'Sullivan in his interview immediately after the match.

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"He was playing good until he started playing me and I just dragged him down to probably the most awful standard of snooker.

"So I'm really sorry about that today but I'm just lucky to get through is all I can say."

The two quarter-finals on the other half of the draw take place on Friday.

Judd Trump, the reigning champion, is up first against Ali Carter in the afternoon session before Mark Allen, the 2018 victor, takes on three-time winner Mark Selby in the evening.

Murphy beats resurgent Lisowski

Shaun Murphy managed to keep a resurgent Jack Lisowski at bay as he beat him 6-3 in Thursday's evening session to reach the last four of the Masters for the first time since 2020.

A clearance of 133 and doubling the final black saw Murphy lead 3-1 at the interval before he produced another 123 break after the restart.

Lisowski reduced the deficit to 5-3 but ran out of position off the pink in the ninth frame while Murphy held his nerve and claimed the victory to set up an O'Sullivan showdown.

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