Barry Hawkins built a 5-3 advantage over Mark Williams in the first session of their semi-final clash at the Betfred World Championship.
Hawkins holds a prolific Crucible record and his quarter-final defeat of Ding Junhui was his 18th victory in the last six years at the Theatre of Dreams. Nobody has won more over that period, including three-time World Champion Mark Selby. That is in stark contrast to his first five years playing in the final stages of the World Championship, where he failed to win a match.
Williams is looking to claim a third Crucible crown and is making his first appearance in the one-table setup since 2011. If he were to hold the trophy aloft on Monday it would be the longest gap between World Championship wins for a player, with his last victory in Sheffield coming in 2003.
The Hawk flew out of the traps this evening, compiling breaks of 129 and 74 to take the opening two frames. Welshman Williams responded immediately with a contribution of 88, but it was Hawkins who claimed the last frame before the interval to make it 3-1 at the mid-session.
They traded two tightly contested frames after the break, before Hawkins re-established his authority with a break of 90 to go 5-2 up. However, 20-time ranking event winner Williams kept in touch with a century run of 110 and ends play just 5-3 behind.
They will resume tomorrow at 2:30pm with the second of four sessions.