Barry Hawkins v Ryan Day: World Grand Prix 2017 Final preview – The Hawk and Dynamite vie for glory

Barry Hawkins and Ryan Day go head to head for the right to be crowned the winner of the 2017 World Grand Prix at the Preston Guild Hall on Sunday.
After 32 players arrived in Preston at the start of the week, both men have won four matches to reach the final – knocking out seven of the world’s top 16 between them along the way – and will now face off for the title and top prize of £100,000
Hawkins’ most recent ranking title came here at the 2014 Players Championship Grand Final and, three years on, would love to put himself back into the winners’ enclosure for the third time in his career.
Having never won a frame in the two previous editions of this event, the Hawk has shredded the record book and soared to his second final of the season.
The 37-year-old, who was edged out by Mark King in the Northern Ireland Open showpiece in November, has overcome Kyren Wilson, Judd Trump, Neil Robertson and Liang Wenbo on the way to moving to within 10 frames of glory.
World number 12 Hawkins, who could rise to seventh on the provisional list by going all the way here, continued his impressive form this week by comprehensively sweeping Liang aside 6-1 in the semis – producing breaks of 106 and 92 in a free-scoring performance, before closing in style with a wonderful run of 120.
This will be his third meeting with Day during the current campaign. Hawkins came out on top 4-1 in the Last 16 at the English Open, while the Welshman was a narrow winner at the previous stage of the World Open earlier on.
Day is aiming to finally claim the first ranking trophy of his career at the fourth attempt and, following the surprise successes of King and Anthony Hamilton this term, will be desperate to shake off the tag of being regarded as the best player yet to taste victory.
Whatever happens in Preston, the 36-year-old will collect the biggest pay cheque of his career, but a win would see him climb back into the world’s top 16.
After seeing off Stuart Bingham, Michael White and Shaun Murphy, ‘Dynamite’ had to dig deep against Marco Fu, as he trailed 4-2 in the semi-finals.
The Welshman reeled off the next four frames, including the eighth from needing four snookers, to stun the in-form Scottish Open winner and book his place in a fourth ranking final.
It promises to be a brilliant occasion at the iconic Preston Guild Hall – the scene for some of the most memorable moments in snooker history – with the best of 19 frames determining who will lift the trophy on Sunday night.
Play gets underway at 1pm GMT with the opening nine frames, before a maximum of ten will be contested from 7pm.

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