Ricky Walden lost out once again to Barry Hawkins at the Crucible – but he refuses to believe his old nemesis is a cut above his level.

Last year’s World Snooker Championship was bittersweet for Walden, reaching the semi-finals for the first time before bowing out in scrappy 17-14 defeat to Hawkins.

Fast forward 12 months and little has changed between the two players, as world No.4 Hawkins shuffled home 13-11 to book his place in the quarter-final after Walden had ended the first two sessions on top by 9-7 .

But Chester-born Walden, who managed to topple Hawkins at the Masters back in January, insists his biggest enemy was himself during crucial periods of the match.

“They’ve not been great games, both of them we’ve played, they’ve been scrappy and we’ve dragged each other down in parts of the game,” said Walden, who is ranked No.10 in the world.

“You just need somebody to go on a burst in those situations. I’ve done that in both games but never kicked on towards the end.

“I was pretty patchy all the way though and Barry was too. I thought I played well through the second session, I was hitting the ball well but I just went out in the third and fell apart a bit really.

“I was just finding it really difficult and I let Barry off the hook because he was playing pretty poor himself early on.

“It’s OK being as placid as you want and going back to the chair but if you’re not doing anything you’ve got to snap out of it as some point.

“I tried to get myself going and that was the final attempt really.”

According to Walden the performance mirrored much of his season, with the high of a UK Championship semi-final last December set against the backdrop of a run of early-round exits.

But he is adamant that he is one of the best players on the circuit – as long as he makes his long pots count.

“I’ve been inconsistent, terribly inconsistent,” he added. “I’m either flying ahead or can’t pot a ball. I can’t put my finger on it.

“The match summed up my season really. I know I’m one of the best players around when I’m in the balls but on other days I struggle to knock those long balls in.

“If the long balls go in I score heavy and win matches comfortably and even tournaments, but if they don’t go in then I’m on my way out.”

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