Mark Selby edged ahead of Ronnie O’Sullivan after the first session of their Shanghai Masters semi-final, establishing a 5-4 lead.
Today’s encounter marks the return of one of snooker’s most significant rivalries, which has seen the pair face each other in finals at all three Triple Crown events. It’s the first time they have met on the circuit since Selby’s crushing 9-3 win in the 2020 Scottish Open final. However, O’Sullivan leads the head-to-head standings 16-11.
Selby, who won the Shanghai Masters in 2011, has his work cut out if he is to complete the job this evening. O’Sullivan is unbeaten in Shanghai since 2016, having won the previous three runnings of the event between 2017 and 2019.
The opening stages saw O’Sullivan take the first two frames, before Selby pegged him back by winning the third and the fourth to restore parity at 2-2 heading in for the mid-session break.
When play got back underway it was seven-time World Champion O’Sullivan who regained the lead, but he was again reeled back in by Selby after a break of 63 from the Leicester cueman made it 3-3.
The standard was then pushed up a notch when O’Sullivan fired in a century run of 113 to again regain the lead. However, it was Selby who ended the session with back-to-back breaks of 101 and 99 to take the last two frames and move ahead for the first time in the tie at 5-4.
The pair will return later today to play the best of 19 encounter to its conclusion, with the victor progressing to face either Luca Brecel or Neil Robertson in the title match.