Jet-setting Barry Hawkins can’t wait to swap the south-east for Saudi Arabia when the globetrotting World Snooker Tour resumes.
The Ditton potter’s World Championship hopes came to an end on Saturday as he was unable to battle past Kyren Wilson at the Crucible.
Hawkins, a 2013 finalist, reeled in a 9-4 Wilson lead to level the scores but the 2020 runner-up finished with a flourish to dash the Kent player’s hopes 13-10.
Outgoing World Snooker Tour boss Barry Hearn signed a lucrative deal for a new tournament in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last year with a total prize pot of £2.5m on offer.
Almost all events this season have been held behind closed doors in Milton Keynes and Hawkins, 41, said: “It’s a really exciting time.
“Hopefully we can get back to all the different venues next year as going back to the same place, although it was a great setup, was a little bit demoralising after a little while.
“Hopefully everything will start opening up, things will get back to normality and we can get those big tournaments back on again.
“The ones in China – and the one we signed the deal for in Saudi Arabia. That would be nice to get out there before I stop playing, so it’s exciting times.
“It was a funny old game [today] – we were both trying to find some rhythm all through the match.
“We’d play well one frame and then one of us would miss something stupid in the next. I battled well and enjoyed the challenge, but just fell a bit short.
“He stepped up and made a couple of good breaks at the end there. It was a tough game and battle, but I enjoyed the match.”
Hawkins breezed past Matthew Selt 10-3 in his first round Crucible clash and made Wilson work for his last 16 triumph on Friday and Saturday.
Wilson, who went down to Ronnie O’Sullivan in last year’s final, opened up a 9-4 lead in the game’s second session but a rousing Hawkins fightback soon levelled the scores.
The three-time ranking event winner rattled off five frames on the spin to restore parity and tee up a tantalising finale.
Hawkins struck breaks of 107, 67, 53 and 52 but Wilson soon re-found his fluency as two half-centuries of his own, followed by a final-frame 102, edged him over the line.
Hawkins had been plummeting down the world snooker rankings but semi-final appearances at the German Masters, Players Championship and Tour Championship have propelled him back up to world No.11.
And the upbeat 2017 World Grand Prix champion added: “I’ve had a good season so there are positives to take.
“I was slipping down the rankings a little bit but have got myself up there again. I’ve been pleased with the way I’ve dedicated myself this year – I’ve had some good runs along the way and have got to keep the good work up.
“This year has given me the chance to practice and get my head down. It’s paid off a little bit – I haven’t won anything but I’ve been pretty consistent the whole year. I’m not going to beat myself up too much about that match. I’ll have a bit of time off now and go again.
“I’ll have a bit of time at home and relax, nip away for a couple of weekends and enjoy myself.”
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