By Chris Bailey, Sportsbeat
STROUD-BASED Dominic Dale was on the cusp of one of the great Crucible comebacks against Barry Hawkins – but he insists he left Sheffield with no regrets.
At 11-5 down, it appeared as if Dale would be put out of his misery quickly by Hawkins in the third session of their World Snooker Championship quarter-final.
However, Dale caused a sensation by winning seven frames on the spin to leave world No.4 Hawkins teetering on the brink of an unthinkable defeat.
But a remarkable show of nerves saw Hawkins snatch away the last two frames, and Dale’s tantalising glimpse of a semi-final date with Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Dale has yet to reach the final four at the Crucible but, after coming so close to a stirring comeback, insists he will not have sleepless nights over his near miss.
“I’m not going to be disappointed, not remotely because I gave Barry the odd chance here and there to wrap the match up at 13-8, 13-9 and so on,” he said.
“I did my best but I didn’t lose those last two, he won them. He just played magnificent snooker like he did in the first two sessions to carve out the victory.
“When you’re 11-5 down there’s nowhere for Barry to go, he’s got the match won. He’s going to get the chances he needs, he’s just got to take them.
“I’ve got to plod along and be as focused as I can because it’s not easy at death’s door so to speak. I knew I had to play as well as I could.
“I went back to an old cue action which just steadied me down a little bit, whether or not it was going to work I had no idea – but it did.
“I played very solidly, I made 60s or 70s in pretty much every frame and I got right back into it. When I went 12-11 ahead I was pretty calm.
“I wouldn’t say the pressure got to me but he found two frames there indicative of his general performance in that match, which was outstandingly good.
"He’s a class act and I can easily see why he’s 2orld No.4. In the end I’m pleased I lived with him all the way.”
It was Dale’s first World Championship quarter-final for 14 years while Hawkins is nearing a second successive final having lost to O’Sullivan 12 months ago.
And Dale, 42, admits their titanic tussle could have a lingering effect on Hawkins, who poured out his emotions by punching the table once victory was sealed.
“I just said congratulations to him, ‘hope your hand’s alright’ because it didn’t sound like the crispest of punches to me,” joked Dale.
“I’ll have to teach him how to punch from my martial art days. He might have a sore hand but he expended a hell of a lot of mental energy there.
“And it could be difficult for him to turn up for a first session [against O’Sullivan]. But I don’t know how he feels, he’ll know better than me.”
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