Hawkins had accounted for Walden 17-14 in the last four of last season's World Championship, but needed some good fortune to provide scope for a couple of frame-winning contributions in moving 5-2 ahead and seemingly to the verge of victory.
But he could only sit and suffer as Walden reeled off four frames for victory.
Hawkins was quick to find some rhythm as a lovely run of 85 earned him a 1-0 lead.
He was slightly fortuitous in the second frame after missing a fine cut on a red to a centre pocket only to fluke another red.
That set the scene for a delightful contribution of 57 as Hawkins moved two frames to the good.
Hawkins was clearly warming to the task as a clearance of 132 carried him three frames clear.
An early 50 gave Walden the impetus to collect the fourth frame, but only after Hawkins blew the chance of a 4-0 lead when he jawed the final brown from mid-range aiming for the green pocket as a relieved Walden potted brown, blue and pink to secure his first frame of the evening.
Walden was forced to sit and watch Hawkins, who was blessed with another fluke that provided him with the chance of a 112 to increase his lead to 4-1.
A Walden knock of 100 made it 4-2 only for his opponent to run in 59 on his way to forging 5-2 ahead.
Walden was hardly in a deflated mood as a rapid run of 73 saw him close to 5-3 behind.
He missed a frame ball green in the ninth, but was not punished as Hawkins mopped up the colours only to play an awful shot on the re-spotted black that left Walden with a tap-in to make it 5-4.
A wretched 10th frame lasting around 53 minutes then fell to Walden with Hawkins conceding almost 50 points in fouls after being left in some impossible positions.
Walden built up a 34-0 lead in the deciding frame only to run out of position when he seemed poised to punish Hawkins off for a safety error, but he returned to the table to accumulate the points he needed for victory with the tension palpable in the arena just before midnight.