Neil Robertson and Stephen Maguire shared the frames in a pulsating opening session to end level at 4-4 at the Coral Tour Championship in Milton Keynes.
The pair will return at 7pm to play their quarter-final tie to a finish, with the first to reach nine frames progressing to the semi-finals.
In snooker’s first ranking tournament since the coronavirus pandemic halted global sport in March, an elite eight player field has assembled to contest this finale to the three-event Coral Series behind closed doors.
The winner will pick up £150,000 and all eight competitors are in contention for the Coral Cup, which sees the player who accumulates the most prize money across the series bagging a £100,000 bonus.
The lack of a crowd and match practise did little to deter the players this afternoon, who set a blistering standard. They traded centuries in the opening two frames, Maguire was first off the mark with a run of 108, before 2010 World Champion Robertson levelled at 1-1 thanks to a break of 100.
Scotland’s five-time ranking event winner Maguire then took the following two frames to head into the mid-session with a 3-1 advantage.
Robertson came storming out of the traps when they returned, firing in runs of 103, 72 and 79 to move ahead at 4-3. However, Maguire ensured they finished all square, with a sublime break of 117 to close out the session.