Mark Selby knocked all the confidence built by qualifier Ding Junhui over the past few weeks as he developed a commanding lead over the world number 17 from China in the first session, before the 11 time major tournament winner struck back to give himself a chance in the second half of the match.
Selby takes control
Selby had struggled to capture the form that has put him on top of the world over the past couple of years during the competition, but seemed to swap mindsets with Ding Junhui who had arguably been the player of the tournament up until this point.
The Jester from Leicester had one hand on the trophy as early as frame six, when he raced into a 6-0 lead. The run included breaks of 91, 76, 120 and 70 as Ding struggled to find any form on the table, with a mistake on the green when ahead in frame two and an easy miss on the red during frame four summing up his disappointing session.
The man from China did eventually get a number next to his name in frame seven as he took a sharp intake of breath and was afforded a rousing reception by the Crucible crowd. A second frame victory in the eighth allowed Ding to go into the interval with a hint of self-belief.
Ding strikes back
Both players struggled with grip on their cues as clammy hands resulting from nerves were clearly taking control at the start of the evening's play. Selby started the session as he did the first with a frame victory, and looked in pole position to recover his six frame lead before a change of cue tip caused him to chip the cue ball onto the red and miss the pot mid-break. Ding jumped onto the lifeline and made a 76 break to recover another frame.
That win seemed to give him confidence as he produced a scintillating 103 break, before taking a third frame in a row with an 89 as Selby failed to cue as he did in the first session, despite Ding gifting him 32 points in three frames via fouls.
After the interval there was nothing to choose between the pair as they played out a tight mini session for the first time in the match. Lasting over three hours, including one frame that took 66 minutes, Selby won that section of the match 3-2 in a tense finale to Sunday's action, leaving the score 10-7 to the Englishman. Ding produced breaks of 86 and 55, though Selby was able to secure the tactical frames as the session ticked over into the early hours of Monday morning, with the world number one struggling to keep his eyes open and both players making uncharacteristic errors in the final frame.
It leaves the match with everything to play for when the duo resume action on Monday afternoon, as the world is treated to a World Championship final that looks as though it will go right down to the wire.