World Championship 2017: Graeme Dott laments form but says Hawkins can win title
Graeme Dott is glad to have ended a nightmare season but took some comfort from being knocked out of the World Championship by a potential champion.
The 2006 champion had to qualify for the Crucible after dropping to 30 in the world rankings and lost 13-6 to Barry Hawkins in the last 16.
"I told him when I shook his hand at the end: 'There's no reason why you can't win it'," said the Scot, 39.
"I've obviously had a terrible season, but I've started to play better."
Dott puts that down to having recently teamed up with a new coach, Chris Henry.
"I'm glad this season's at an end," he told BBC Sport. "My game was in bits at the start of the year and it has been a bit of a disaster really, other than the World Championship.
"It's not exactly ending well - I've lost in the last 16 - but it has ended better than the rest of the season.
"I'm looking forward to working with Chris and trying to be better prepared for next season."
Dott had beaten 12th-ranked Ali Carter in the first round and had stayed in touch with Hawkins, the eighth-ranked Englishman, after the first day's play.
"I was probably outplayed all the way through it," he admitted. "The first session was poor and the first two sessions I didn't get enough out them.
"I lost 5-3, but it should have been 4-4 and last night's final frame was probably pretty big as well.
"There wasn't that much between being 8-8 and 10-6, but today he looked great and played a lot better than he did the first day.
"It probably could have been a bit closer, but he would still have won."
Hawkins lost to Ronnie O'Sullivan in the 2013 final and reached the semi-finals in the following two years.
"He is ideal for the Crucible," added Dott. "He's got an all-round perfect game.
"His safety is fantastic and his long potting, especially from the cushion, is ridiculous. He just doesn't miss any long red from the cushion."