BARRY Hawkins took the decision to pull out of the China Open in Beijing after winning the Players Tour Championship Grand Finals in Preston, fearing that a return trip to the Far East would damage his preparations for the Crucible.

Last year’s finalist was of course able to advance the justification at the time of his withdrawal that the PTC Finals has originally been scheduled to be hosted in Thailand, which would have made a shorter flight.

That may not have been enough to avoid a fine, but the £100,000 pocketed at the Guildhall and £16,000 minimum for winning his first match easily in Sheffield will have covered that.

On the eve of the tournament Ronnie O’Sullivan branded some of his main rivals “insecure” for feeling they had to play in everything chasing the ranking-point dollar and arguably burning themselves out, while he was getting some hard practice yards done in relative comfort ahead of a bid for a sixth world title.

Although we have yet to see exactly what the full pay-off will be for the Kent left-hander Hawkins’ decision not to jeopardise his Crucible preparations was precisely the kind of thing O’Sullivan was talking about, and something we may see more of.

He certainly looked fresh enough in winning the last eight frames against Dave Gilbert for a 10-4 win to take him into the last 16.