Mark Selby bounced back from a below-par opening session to secure a 10-7 lead over Shaun Murphy in the final of the World Championship.
Murphy took advantage of Selby’s disappointing play in the afternoon to open up a 5-3 lead, but the world number three was back to his granite-like best in the evening.
The pressure Selby exerted eventually told on Murphy, whose potting unravelled towards the end of the evening.
The session ended at a good time for Murphy who has the opportunity to regroup and attempt to find the form that catapulted him to the final, but Selby looks in a mood to dominate.
Murphy made a fine start to the second session, stroking in a long red. However, he broke down on 49 – setting the tone for the evening – paying the price for not going into the reds when seemingly with a good angle on the black. He missed the split one shot later and Selby countered with an 85 to take the opener.
“A terrible safety,” as described by Eurosport’s Philip Studd, cost Selby in the following frame.
Selby safety mistakes are rare; as Studd described, it was a shocker – cannoning a red full ball in attempting to get back to baulk – to let Murphy in and he hoovered up an excellent break of 98.
As in the first two frames of the evening, Murphy was in first only to run out of position and Selby stepped in to edge ahead and win a protracted safety battle to cut the gap to one.
Murphy did not miss a pot in the first three frames of the evening, but still lost two of them. His first miss came in the final frame before the interval. It ultimately proved costly as Selby put together a couple of telling contributions to level the match at 6-6 heading into the interval.
The opening session was a bitty, error-strewn affair, but both players came out for the evening looking more relaxed and their play reflected it.
Murphy was unfortunate to lose position on a couple of occasions, but Selby punished him with the clinical precision of a surgeon.
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A pattern of the session was Murphy getting in and breaking down. It happened again in the 13th, but Selby failed to punish on this occasion as he missed a tough red to the right middle and the Magician stepped in to move back in front.
As in the first session, Selby had a shot at making a bit of Crucible history in the 14th frame, as a free ball offered him the chance to become only the second player to make a 16-red clearance at the World Championship. However, he ran out of position when splitting the pack but the 52-point lead was a healthy one and a good safety crafted a second opening to peg Murphy back to level terms.
Another frame, another occasion where Murphy got in first only to break down. It proved costly as Selby came to the table and knocked in a break of 90 to hit the front for the first time in the match at 8-7.
While his positional play had been awry, Murphy’s potting was excellent in the opening six frames of the session. But the pressure applied by Selby began to take a toll as he missed a couple of long reds by a distance in the 16th frame and the three-time winner pounced to move two frames ahead.
Murphy went nearly an hour without potting a ball, and ironic cheers from the Crucible crowd greeted a red that dropped in the final frame. But he missed the following black and Selby put points on the board before winning a safety battle to extend his advantage to three.
Last year, Ronnie O’Sullivan led Kyren Wilson 10-7 overnight on his way to the title and Selby will hope history repeats itself.