Defending champion Judd Trump has work to do in his first round clash on day one of the Betfred World Championship, trailing Tom Ford 5-4 after the opening session.
World number one Trump, who has won a record six ranking titles this season, is aiming to become the first maiden winner of the event to defend his title the following year.
Trump secured the world crown in the most emphatic fashion possible in 2019. He stormed to an 18-9 demolition of four-time Crucible king John Higgins in the final to seal his first World Championship win.
Ford, ranked 26th in the world, defeated Gerard Greene and Stuart Carrington at qualifying to secure his place in the final stages at the Crucible. He’s compiled two 147 breaks this season and had a golden opportunity to add a third in the first frame this morning.
With just two open reds left on the table, Ford missed a black and broke down on 97. He then took the second frame with a break of 53, before adding a third to move into a surprise early 3-0 advantage. Crucially, Trump remained in touch heading into the mid-session with a century run of 104.
The Ace in the Pack closed the gap further when play resumed, a break of 61 allowed him to pull within one at 3-2. However, Ford emphatically responded with breaks of 140 and 61, to re-establish his three-frame cushion at 5-2. Trump then claimed the eighth, before a dramatic last frame of the session.
Ford had led 48-0, but missed a straightforward pink and allowed Trump to clear with 61 to set up an intriguing final session at 7pm.
On the other table, 2015 World Champion Stuart Bingham emerged with a narrow 5-4 lead over Crucible debutant Ashley Carty.
By coming through qualifying earlier this week, Carty saved himself from relegation off the professional circuit. Bingham has had an up and down season, but did secure his maiden Masters title with victory at Alexandra Palace in January.
Bingham had taken control in the early stages to move into a 4-2 lead. However, world number 82 Carty wasn’t intimidated on his first appearance at the Crucible. He took two of the last three frames, with breaks of 118 and 69, to end just a frame behind heading into tomorrow morning’s concluding session.