Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ding Junhui are locked together at 4-4 following an intriguing opening session of their Betfred World Championship clash.
The Rocket, who is competing in his 18th Crucible quarter-final, has dominated previous meetings between the pair, leading 10-2 in the head to head record. However, it’s 12-time ranking winner Ding who most recently made it to snooker’s showpiece match, losing out in last year’s world final to Mark Selby.
China’s top player got off to a blistering start this morning. He charged to a 3-0 lead thanks to breaks of 71, 128 and 71. Ding was among the balls in frame four and in position to take a clean-sweep into the mid-session. However, he broke down on 11 and allowed the five-time World Champion to step in and make a break of 63 for the frame.
O’Sullivan restricted Ding to potting just nine balls over a three frame burst which saw the Rocket restore parity with further contributions of 99 and 65.
Ding came from behind and cleared with 43 in the seventh frame to force a respotted black. A misjudged safety from O’Sullivan resulted in a double kiss which allowed Ding to reclaim the lead at 4-3. However, O’Sullivan went on to take the next frame and ensure the pair go into this evening’s second session all square.
John Higgins leads Kyren Wilson 5-3 after the opening exchanges of their last eight encounter.
The four-time Crucible winner is bidding to reach the single table set up for the first time since his last World Championship triumph in 2011.
Wilson went on a superb run to the quarter-finals last year in his second World Championship appearance. He’ll be hoping to improve on his Crucible best this time around.
The 41-year-old Higgins came out strongly at the start of play and imposed himself on the promising 2015 Shanghai Masters winner Wilson, by moving out to a 2-0 lead.
Wilson responded immediately and was soon level following a break of 92 in the fourth frame. They then traded frames before the Warrior suffered damage to his cue tip. That caused a brief halt to play whilst his cue underwent repairs. When they returned it was the Scot who was firing. Runs of 62 and 59 helped him to open up the two frame cushion at 5-3. They will also return for the second installment of their quarter-final tonight.