Mark Selby made a superb start to his Betfred World Championship final clash against Ding Junhui by taking a 6-2 lead in the first session.
Selby went 6-0 up and in fact could have gone further ahead if he hadn’t missed the blue in the seventh frame, and Ding was able to gain a foothold in the contest by taking the last two.
Leicester’s Selby is playing in his third world final and aiming to win the title for the second time having beaten Ronnie O’Sullivan in the 2014 final. That would make him only the sixth player, after Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, Mark Williams, John Higgins and O’Sullivan, to lift the trophy more than once at the Crucible.
China’s Ding is the first Asian player to reach the final and, at number 17 in the world, is aiming to become the first qualifier to win the title since Shaun Murphy in 2005.
World number one Selby took the opening frame today with a break of 91. Ding made 52 in the second to lead by 29 points with just the colours left, but a missed chance on the yellow proved costly as Selby got the snooker he needed on the green then cleared up to lead 2-0. That set-back affected Ding as his opponent rattled through the next three frames with runs of 76, 120 and 70.
Ding started frame six with a run of 38 before losing position, then Selby made 41 before playing safe. The Englishman got another chance and added 32 to go 6-0 up. In frame seven, Ding led 63-31 when he missed the last red to a baulk corner, and Selby had a chance to clear but rattled the final blue in the jaws of the same corner. The Sheffield crowd cheered as Ding potted the blue to get a frame on the board. And the Chinese ace also took the last of the session in three scoring visits to narrow the deficit to four.
They resume at 7pm for nine more frames. First to 18 tomorrow will take the title and £330,000 top prize.