Ronnie O’Sullivan is closing in on a record-equalling seventh Crucible title after establishing a commanding 12-5 lead over Judd Trump in the final.
The Rocket requires just six more frames to match Stephen Hendry’s tally following a dominant opening two sessions in Sheffield on Sunday.
The 46-year-old took advantage against a lacklustre Trump, hitting three centuries and a further seven breaks over 50 as he looks to become the oldest Crucible champion since Ray Reardon in 1978.
Should he win six of the first eight frames when they resume on Monday, O’Sullivan would also become only the third player to win a final at the spiritual home of snooker with a session to spare.
The other two to achieve the feat were Steve Davis – against Cliff Thorburn (18-6) and John Parrott (18-3) in 1983 and 1989 respectively – and Hendry – against Jimmy White (18-5) in 1993.
Appearing in his eighth Crucible showpiece, O’Sullivan lost the opening frame as Trump began with 72, but breaks of 120 – his 200th century in the World Championship – and 68 turned things around.
Winner here in 2019, Trump looked set to level his third World final when leading by 37 points with 35 remaining in frame four. But after getting the snooker he required and forcing a re-spotted black, his opponent snatched a 3-1 lead following a remarkable cocked-hat double to the left centre.
A brilliant 105 pulled the Rocket further clear at 5-1, but Trump stopped the rot with 97 and cut the deficit to 5-3 in the final frame of the afternoon, in which O’Sullivan was involved in a heated discussion with referee Olivier Marteel and subsequently warned for an alleged obscene gesture.
The Ace moved to within a single frame at the start of the evening session with 73, but errors crept in as fatigue from the exertions of his dramatic semi-final victory over Mark Williams began to show.
Smelling blood, six-time champion O’Sullivan took full advantage with runs of 118, 97, 87, 66 and 50 moving him 10-4 to the good.
Trump replied with 80, but a combination of unforced mistakes and bad run proved costly.
Indeed, the Rocket stepped in with 60 and 88 to establish his biggest overnight lead in a Crucible final.