Ding Junhui leads Stephen Maguire 5-3 after the first session of the Betway UK Championship final in York.
Ding took an early 4-0 advantage before Maguire recovered to take three of the next four frame to keep his hopes very much alive going into tonight’s concluding session, when the trophy and £200,000 top prize will be up for grabs.
Ding captured this title in 2005 and 2009 and is aiming to become the fifth player to win the UK Championship at least three times, joining Ronnie O’Sullivan (seven), Steve Davis (six), Stephen Hendry (five) and John Higgins (three).
The 32-year-old from China is targeting his 14th ranking title and first since the 2017 Yushan World Open.
Glasgow’s 38-year-old Maguire first landed this title in 2004 and is looking to become the tenth player to win it more than once. His only other Triple Crown final came at the 2007 UK Championship when he lost to Ronnie O’Sullivan. The Scot is looking for his sixth ranking title and first since the 2013 Welsh Open. He has won seven of 13 previous matches with Ding.
Both players would go to ninth place in the world ranking with victory, and 15th with defeat.
Ding started strongly, taking the opening frame with breaks of 47 and 48. Maguire looked nervy in the early stages and Ding punished him, compiling runs of 56, 105 and 128 to extend his lead to 4-0.
After the interval, Maguire got the better of a scrappy fifth frame. Ding had first chance in the sixth and made 49 before missing a red to a top corner, letting his opponent in for an excellent 67 clearance.
Maguire kept his momentum going as runs of 42 and 30 gave him to seventh. But Ding took the last of the session with a break of 66 to keep himself ahead.
They resume at 7pm, with first to ten frames to take the title.