Ronnie O'Sullivan will have to be aware of the threat Jack 'Jackpot' Lisoswki poses in their Players Championship quarter-final to avoid another surprise defeat, according to 2013 world finalist Barry Hawkins.
Hawkins became the first man to book his place in the last four with a 6-2 win over Stuart Bingham – conqueror of world number one Judd Trump in the first round – that saw him recover from trailing 2-1 to win five straight frames and secure a meeting with O'Sullivan or Lisowski in the semi-finals on Friday night.
O'Sullivan is the 15/8 favourite to claim a third Players Championship, but Hawkins feels the world champion can't take liberties only four days after his shock 9-8 defeat to 750-1 tournament outsider Jordan Brown in the Welsh Open final.
When is the English Open 2021? Dates, schedule, draw, odds
Lisowski has reached two ranking finals this season – losing twice to Trump in the World Grand Prix (7-10) and German Masters (2-9) respectively – to move up to 11 in the world as he continues to chase a first major title since turning professional in 2010.
- 'I hope I haven't upset Ding' – O'Sullivan sorry for bout of rest rage during dramatic win
- 'Crazy curls' – Robertson vows to continue with natural potting perm
- 'It's like having 30 kids' – Rocket Ronnie on snooker Groundhog Day
"Ronnie is favourite, but Jack has been playing well for some time now and is due to win one soon," said Hawkins, who enjoyed knocks of 80, 70 and 54 against 2015 world champion Bingham.
He's been knocking on the door for quite some time. If he gets on one, he can play just as well as Ronnie can.
"It will be a great game to watch. Both are unbelievably exciting players to watch.
"I don't really mind who wins, I'm just pleased I'm still in the tournament.
'Wow' - Lisowski nails incredible long red against Brecel
"I do feel like I'm slowly improving. I'm playing well in a lot of the matches, but until I win another tournament your confidence won't be sky high," added Hawkins, whose last tournament victory came at the 2017 World Grand Prix with a 10-7 win over Ryan Day.
Hawkins is guaranteed a £30,000 cheque for reaching the semi-finals, but is only two wins away from a £125,000 top prize as he bids to improve his world ranking of 18.
He is ninth on the one-year list as he chases a Tour Championship place for being inside the top eight after the WST Pro Series concludes next month with World Championship qualification also on the table.
Hawkins knocks in fabulous 140 break against Trump
"Sometimes you need a kick up the backside when you drop down the rankings. I've tried a bit harder and it is starting to pay off a bit," said the former world number four.
"There are millions of players out there and you can turn up and still get beat, but lucky for me at the moment, I'm winning a few matches."
Northern Ireland Open
'Never seen a clearance as good as that' - O'Sullivan hails magic moment from Higgins
Northern Ireland Open
'Messi can maybe make the game look that easy' - O'Sullivan wowed by Higgins