RONNIE O’SULLIVAN will carry a 10-7 lead over Mark Selby into the last day of their Dafabet World Championship final after a dramatic two sessions of snooker at the Crucible in Sheffield on Sunday.
O’Sullivan pulled away from his 5-3 first session lead to go 10-5 clear but Selby threw himself a lifeline by winning the past two frames of the night.
The players were given a great reception by the capacity Crucible crowd, who also applauded enthusiastically as Brendan Moore became the first Sheffield referee to take charge of the final.
O’Sullivan looked immediately sharp, winning the initial safety battle in the opening frame before clinching it with a break of 69.
The 38 year-old claimed the second in two scoring visits and made his 11th century of the tournament, 102, to race into a 3-0 lead.
Having been outplayed for three frames, Selby finally got on the scoreboard in the fourth with a run of 37 after O’Sullivan had missed a red to a middle pocket.
Selby also won the fifth after winning a safety battle on the yellow and clearing but he was unlucky in the next when he potted the black, went into the pack of reds and failed to get on one. O’Sullivan sank a long red and made 63 to lead 4-2.
Selby again went into the pack, this time from the blue, on 28 in frame seven but failed to land on a red. He got another chance when O’Sullivan went in-off but lost his way with a poor positional shot, missing a difficult red with the cue ball tight on a side cushion.
But O’Sullivan soon a missed a pink as the session became scrappier and Selby did enough to get to within one frame at 4-3.
O’Sullivan looked set to clinch the eighth but missed a red on 38 and Selby set about a clearance. But the Leicester man lost position on the last red and another safety battle ensued. Selby fluked the red but then missed the black and O’Sullivan cleared to ensure his first session lead.
He pulled two clear for the first two by winning the first two frames of the evening, the second of which was resolved when he sank green and brown after winning a lengthy safety battle.
Selby missed a red in frame 11 and O’Sullivan made 63 to extend his advantage to 8-3 before Selby won his first frame of the night, the last before the interval.
That was 8-4 and O’Sullivan had a chance for 9-4 when he got the snooker he needed in the next but he was unlucky in potting the last red to also knock the green in. Selby did enough for 8-5 but it seemed to fire O’Sullivan up and he hit breaks of 131 and 87 to make it 10-5.
When Selby lost position in the next, O’Sullivan knocked in a great long red but soon missed a routine black and Selby made 58.
In the last frame of the day, O’Sullivan missed a long red and Selby made his highest break of the final so far, 62, to leave the final poised at 10-7.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.