Ding Junhui is on course for a telling victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan after the Chinese number one established a 10-6 quarter-final lead on Tuesday in Sheffield.
The 30 year-old was in superb form as he dominated the second session to pull away after the opening session between the pair was tied at 4-4.
Ding needs only three more frames to reach the semi-finals for the second successive season.
The encounter had a heavyweight billing but there were some who questioned Ding’s ability to overcome O’Sullivan having failed to do so in a match of relevance since 2006.
However, bar a minor lapse in concentration during the middle frames of the first session, Ding was in complete control of the contest.
Both players scored heavily, with at least a half century tallied in all 16 frames as the tie progressed at a frenetic and entertaining pace.
Ding’s potentially match-defining run of frames came midway through the second session when breaks of 120, 65, 64, 59, and 58 provided him with five frames on the bounce to lead 10-5.
O’Sullivan quickly responded with a 104, his first century of the fixture, to give himself some hope of a comeback on Wednesday but, if Ding maintains his high level, the hopes of a “Rocket” revival are slim.
Ding looks every bit the player who could go on and finally land a maiden world crown after more than a decade of false promise.
It’s likely a repeat of 2016’s final will materialise in the last four as Mark Selby also opened comfortably against Marco Fu.
Fu looked weary after his exploits from the first two stages in which he played the maximum possible frames, bar one.
By contrast, Selby is growing into the tournament and with a 6-2 cushion he’ll be difficult to catch as he prolongs his bid to reign at the Crucible for another campaign.
Meanwhile, John Higgins looks set to return to the single table set-up of the semi-finals for the first time since 2011 as he romped clear of Kyren Wilson for an 11-5 lead.
The remaining affair appears much closer, for now at least, as Barry Hawkins enjoys a slim 5-3 advantage over Stephen Maguire.
It could have been better for the 2013 runner-up only for the Scot crucially claiming the last two frames of the session to trail by only a couple overnight.
All four matches reach their conclusions on Wednesday as we draw ever closer to the business end of proceedings in Sheffield.