RONNIE O’Sullivan remains on course to win his sixth World Championship title after taking a 10-7 lead over Mark Selby into the final day of the competition.
O’Sullivan just needs to win eight more frames over two sessions to join the likes of Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis and Ray Reardon to have won snooker’s biggest prize on six occasions in the sport’s modern era.
But true grit and determination from Selby, who struggled throughout the opening day, helped him win the final two frames of the session to keep his hopes alive. A strong start on Monday, which is imperative, will put him right back into the contest.
Leading 5-3 from the opening session, O’Sullivan started the evening as he did in the afternoon. Breaks of 40, 52 and 63 gave him the first three frames as his lead shot up to 8-3.
Down in the doldrums and with nothing going his way, Selby managed to pull a frame out of the bag just before the mid-session interval with a break of 43 after O’Sullivan missed a long red.
And Selby took full advantage of some misfortune in the next frame as O’Sullivan went in-off after potting the final red as the cannoned green went in the opposite baulk corner pocket. Selby cleared with a break of 29 to go 8-5 behind.
But within the blink of an eye, O’Sullivan turned the screw again and produced his best period of play in the final as a quick-fire break of 131, the highest in the match so far, was followed by an effortless run of 87 as he restored his five-frame advantage in a matter of minutes.
Deep in trouble, Selby looked like he was heading even further behind when O’Sullivan was in the balls once again. But an unexpected miss on the black, to everyone’s surprise, allowed the Leicester man to claw the deficit to 10-6.
And in a tense final frame, Selby got the better of O’Sullivan in a mini safety battle and then made a break of 62, his highest of the match, to go into the second day just 10-7 behind. It could have been a lot worse.