John Higgins will take a 10-7 lead over Mark Selby going into the final day of the 2017 World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.
The Scot raced clear of the defending champion, winning the first session 6-2 before extending his advantage to 10-4 in the evening’s play.
A weary Selby looked a spent force following his gruelling 17-15 semi-final triumph over Ding Junhui on Saturday.
However, the 33 year-old is known for his will to never give up and he duly responded like a champion with three excellent frames late in the day to pull his arrears back to just three overnight.
It’s one of the unusual scenarios where, even though one player boasts a nice cushion, both cueists will feel relatively happy with the way things have panned out.
Indeed, despite being behind Selby appeared to be the more galvanised of the pair as they exited the arena on Sunday.
The world number one will of course have fond memories of 2014, when he trailed Ronnie O’Sullivan by the same margin before emerging with his maiden world crown.
Higgins, though, is experienced enough to know that long encounters such as these have the tendency to comprise many twists and turns.
In fact, the four-time world champion will potentially be pleased that the second session ended when it did, as Selby definitely looked like the player on top at that point.
With two sessions remaining on Monday, the final showdown is certainly nicely poised.
While Higgins was the underdog going into the contest, he would have jumped to an overwhelming favourite after establishing his six-frame lead.
But Selby’s late revival means that it’s now hard to choose between the pair.
It’s unlikely that the “Jester from Leicester” will suffer from another suspect period of play so Higgins will be mentally preparing for an onslaught.
On the 40th anniversary of World Championships at the Crucible, this amazingly marks the first occasion that two multiple world champions have contested the final, so both Selby and Higgins know what it takes with the winning line in sight.
It’s been 15 years since the last final went down to a decider – when Peter Ebdon narrowly pipped Stephen Hendry in a dramatic affair 18-17.
Despite Selby’s three-frame deficit, his late rally on the first day of action has ensured that there is every possibility that this fixture could also go all the way.
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