Stuart Bingham came from 4-1 down to take a 5-4 lead over Shaun Murphy in the first session of the Ladbrokes World Grand Prix final in Llandudno.
Murphy looked in control in the early stages, but then lost momentum and may regret missing the opportunity to stamp his authority on the contest. This is their first meeting since last year’s World Championship final when Murphy let slip an 8-4 lead and eventually lost 18-15.
Basildon’s Bingham needs five more frames tonight to win the £100,000 top prize and capture his first title since his Crucible triumph last May. He is targeting the fourth ranking title of his career.
Nottingham-based Murphy is aiming for his sixth ranking title and first since the 2014 Haikou World Open. He has won five of the eight previous meetings against Bingham.
Both players are contesting their first ranking final of the season. Bingham is sure to stay second in the world whatever the result while Murphy will be fourth on the ranking list if he wins and fifth if he loses.
Murphy won the opening frame with a top break of 40 and took the second with a 38 clearance initiated by a cracking long pot on the penultimate red. Bingham pulled one back with a break of 68 and had several scoring chances in frame four but couldn’t take advantage and his opponent went 3-1 up.
Murphy’s 58 saw him extend his advantage and he led 56-0 in frame six when he missed a mid-range red to a top corner. That proved a turning point as Bingham battled back and won the frame on the colours after getting the better of a safety battle on the green.
That helped Bingham settle into the match and runs of 55 and 93 got him back to 4-4. In the last frame of the session, Murphy had three scoring chances, but could only build a 47-0 lead, and after he missed a tricky red to a centre pocket, Bingham made 74 which proved enough for a slender lead.
The match resumes at 7pm with first to ten frames taking the crown.