Ronnie O’Sullivan maintained his four-frame advantage over Shaun Murphy to lead 10-6 going into the concluding session of their second round tie at the Betfred World Championship.
There was high drama at the Crucible Theatre, as Murphy squandered a crucial green in the last frame of the day which allowed O’Sullivan to clear and turn a potential lead of two into a four-frame cushion.
A rapturous atmosphere greeted the players when they got underway yesterday evening and the Rocket rose to the occasion, putting on a clinical display to come into today 6-2 up.
This afternoon world number five Murphy embarked upon his substantial task of getting back into the game with a run of 70 to move to 6-3. However, the five-time World Champion once again stepped up to the plate with three consecutive frames, helped by breaks of 63 and 75, to go 9-3 up in what seemed to be an unassailable advantage.
Murphy had to dig deep and he did, bursting back into contention at 9-6 with breaks of 84, 73 and 77. He had looked set to make it 9-7, but let a brilliant opportunity slip and still has it all to do tomorrow. O’Sullivan needs three more frames to reach an 18th Crucible quarter-final.
Meanwhile, Mark Allen made three centuries as he built a 5-3 lead over four-time Crucible winner John Higgins.
The Pistol hasn’t had the best of seasons by his standards. He was unable to defend his title at the recent Players Championship, failing to qualify for the event contested by the season’s 16 most successful players. However, he looked to have regained his ominous touch this afternoon.
Allen composed runs of 71, 65, 100,102, 129 and 82 in a fantastic session of snooker. Although, the 28-time ranking winner Higgins will be delighted to have kept in the match. He claimed the final frame to stay within two frames going into the second session.