Chigwell's Ronnie O’Sullivan opened up a sizable lead in the World Snooker Championship final on Sunday – but Mark Selby remains in with a shout after clinching the last two frames.
O’Sullivan had raced away to a five-frame advantage but Selby pulled it back to 10-7 to give himself a chance of overturning the deficit when the first-to-18 clash concludes today.
Selby is competing in his first Crucible final for seven years – while O’Sullivan is eyeing up his sixth crown.
The Rocket has won six of six appearances in snooker’s biggest clash and could lift his third title in a row if he succeeds today.
And he started like a man who did not even want to wait that long, caressing in an opening break of 69 to take a rapid lead.
Runs of 27 and 37 extended that advantage to two before the Rocket drilled in his first century of the match, 102, to heap the pressure on world No.3 Selby.
Crucially Selby managed to wrestle away some of O’Sullivan’s momentum just before the mid-session interval, battling back from behind to clinch the frame with a visit of 37.
And with the next frame in his sights he failed to sink an easy red but eventually prevailed after a safety exchange to reduce the arrears to one.
But O’Sullivan was by far the heavy scorer, compiling 63 to take the next before Selby scrapped away to again peg the score back.
Then with a golden chance to tie proceedings up at the end of the final session, Selby missed a regulation black to hand O’Sullivan a 5-3 lead.
Play resumed in the evening with a scrappy frame that O’Sullivan edged, while two opening snookers handed the five-time champion another advantage, promptly developing an ominous five-frame lead.
O’Sullivan made it four frames in a row with a contribution of 63 but Selby clung onto his coat-tails with his match-high break of 55.
And Selby strung another one together after O’Sullivan was unfortunate to pot the green in the act of holing a long red – but he responded in typical Rocket fashion.
He rattled in a magnificent 131 before narrowly missing out on another century in the next frame with 87 as Selby sat and watched.
But Selby – nicknamed the Jester from Leicester – ground out 58 in the penultimate frame to lend himself hope and made sure he finished on a further high with a closing 62.
British Eurosport is the Home of Snooker, showing 19 tournaments per season including the World Championship, UK Championship the Masters and all other ranking events. Available on Sky, Virgin Media & BT TV or online/mobile via eurosportplayer.com #eurosportsnooker