World champion Mark Selby opened up a commanding 6-2 lead over Ronnie O’Sullivan in the first session of the UK Championship final in York.
Five-time UK winner O’Sullivan made a brilliant start with a break of 124 in the first frame and added a 63 break in the third to lead 2-1.
But world number one Selby won five frames in a row, with his top break of 87 coming in the session’s final frame.
They play to a conclusion from 19:00 GMT in the best-of-19 match.
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O’Sullivan, 40, has never lost in the final of this event and is looking to equal Steve Davis’s record of six UK crowns, but now faces a big battle to get back into the match.
Selby, 33, showed his fighting spirit with a break of 67 in the fourth frame to ensure he went into the mid-session interval all-square at 2-2.
The 2012 champion then dominated the second session, with a break of 63 in the fifth frame putting him ahead for the first time.
And as O’Sullivan missed routine chances, Selby made breaks of 58 and 87 to move within four frames of winning his second UK title.
Victory for Selby would see a player win the world and UK titles in the same year for the first time since O’Sullivan achieved the feat in 2001.
Former world champion John Parrott on BBC Two: “It’s been a tremendous performance from Mark Selby. You’ve witnessed the art of match-play snooker. It’s not about getting 100 every single frame, it’s about winning them with what’s in front of you.
“Tactically he is on top. He has no control over what Ronnie does but when he’s missed, he has capitalised.
“Selby has been phenomenal. Everything about him including his temperament, he’s a top match player. He’s very underestimated in this game. “
Six-time world champion Steve Davis on BBC Two: “That’s probably the worst session Ronnie has played in the whole tournament.
“The problem he has now is the level of relentlessness that Mark Selby stamps on a game of snooker. That will make his attempt to climb back into the final even harder.
“You have to have the stomach for it. Ronnie has to re-group and relish the fight he faces.
“If he throws the towel in, it will be business as usual for Mark Selby tonight.”
Ronnie O’Sullivan (Eng) 2-6 Mark Selby (Eng)
138-0 (124), 41-71, 63-0 (63), 8-103 (67), 0-82 (63), 32-52, 1-109 (58 & 51), 0-128 (87)
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