Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump are struggling to stay in this year’s Betfred World Championship as both trail overnight in the second round in Sheffield.
O’Sullivan has compiled three tons and four further breaks above 68 but finds himself 9-7 down to a resilient Barry Hawkins.
Hawkins lost to the ‘Rocket’ in the final three years ago and also has a painful 10-1 defeat in the Masters final earlier this season to recall.
However, the ‘Hawk’ isn’t showing any signs of nerves yet as he efficiently manages his lead over the tournament favourite.
Despite his opponent’s heavy scoring, Hawkins is dominating the frames in which he gets in first so there’s no opportunity for O’Sullivan to pounce.
With only two frames separating them it is still too close to call but if Hawkins can get off to a good start in the last session there’ll be a serious amount of pressure on O’Sullivan to produce.
Trump, meanwhile, is in a much more perilous situation as he is 10-6 down on Ding Junhui.
The encounter began in scintillating fashion with a break above 50 between them, including a century each, in six out of the opening seven frames.
Yet, the sizable contributions dried up thereafter and it was more a war of attrition rather than an all out attack fest.
With a four frame cushion, Ding is in complete control and it will take a mini collapse for him to squander such a strong position on Monday.
Elsewhere, prospects of a place in the quarter-finals look even worse for Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen.
Allen was the favourite to win his clash with qualifier Kyren Wilson but, in an odd clash, the latter boasts an 11-5 advantage and is within two frames of a last eight berth.
Shanghai Masters champion Wilson won the first seven frames before Allen responded by claiming the next five to seemingly get himself back into contention.
But Wilson then reeled off the last four of the second session – the final two frames especially crucial as they could have gone either way.
11-5 deficits have been overturned before but Allen is going to need a lightning start and hope that Wilson begins to feel the heat of the Crucible.
Finally, four-time world champion John Higgins established a 10-6 lead over Ricky Walden.
Higgins, who has been quietly going about his business somewhat under the radar, is looking increasingly like a danger man this week and will be a heavy favourite against fellow Scot Alan McManus should he complete the victory over Walden and reach the quarter-finals.
All four encounters reach their climax on Monday.