Ronnie O’Sullivan feels the Masters final between Neil Robertson and Barry Hawkins is on a knife-edge heading into the evening session.
Robertson edged the first session at the Alexandra Palace 5-3, but it seesawed and could have gone other ways.
Hawkins could have got out at 4-4, but Robertson passed up a chance in the seventh and may have had a four-frame advantage in the race to 10.
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The players will return at 7pm, with the action live on discovery+ and Eurosport, and O’Sullivan feels Hawkins is firmly in the match.
“Hawkins has not scored as well as Robertson, but not many players to do so you can forgive him for that,” O’Sullivan said in the Eurosport studio.
“He (Hawkins) has scraped away and won a lot of the close frames and could have gone 3-2 up. It could have been 4-4. If Barry can win some of those scrappy frames, he’s well in this match. He will be happy with 5-3.”
Hawkins beat Judd Trump in a thriller in the semi-finals, and a rare show of emotion suggested he was in the battle.
“He believes it,” O’Sullivan said. “He looks solid and up for it. You saw last night he showed that emotion, so he has that Eye of the Tiger and is fired up which is good.”
O’Sullivan feels the contest is set up for Hawkins to go on the attack, and advised Robertson against going into his shell.
“When you are an out-and-out attacker, it is hard to go defensive,” O’Sullivan said. “When you set your stall out to be the aggressor like Neil has, you expect he has got to continue to win this match.
“Hawkins has dug out this afternoon, he is 5-3 down and has worked hard, so when he comes in tonight and the shackles release a bit, he has done his hard graft and it could be an opportunity to catch fire.
“If he catches fire the match takes on a different dynamic and it is finely balanced.”
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