Mark Selby recovered from a slow start to establish a 10-7 overnight lead against Shaun Murphy in the World Snooker Championship final at The Crucible.
The three-time winner produced a trademark display of grit and determination on Sunday as he came from behind on four separate occasions to take command of the Sheffield showpiece.
Following his hard-fought 17-15 victory over Stuart Bingham in the semi-finals less than 24 hours earlier, world number four Selby struggled to produce his optimum performance levels and looked rusty during the opening stages against Murphy.
The Magician took full advantage; establishing 2-0, 5-3 and 6-4 leads along the way.
But the Jester dug deep by winning each of the last four frames from 7-6 down to lead by three heading into Monday’s finale.
Following a six-year absence, 2005 champion Murphy was back in his fourth Crucible final following an inspired 17-12 victory over Kyren Wilson in the last four.
The Magician, who reeled off eight successive frames from 12-9 down against the Warrior, built on that momentum by taking the first couple on the colours for a 2-0 lead.
He looked good for 3-0 following a nice break of 65, but Selby fought back to halve the deficit on the black, before a run of 89 levelled proceedings at the interval.
But Murphy restored his advantage as he won two of the next three frames with contributions of 75 and 64, before snatching the eighth on the colours after Selby missed a tricky final red.
The Magician had the first chance of the evening, from which a run of 49 put him in control.
However, his opponent responded with a brilliant clearance of 85 to narrow the gap, but an uncharacteristic safety error in the next allowed Murphy to respond with 98 for 6-4.
Nevertheless, Selby hit back with 67, before a lovely 86 clearance squared things up once more.
Seeking his 10th ranking title – and first since lifting the Welsh Open trophy 14 months ago – world number seven Murphy edged his nose in front for the fourth time thanks to a neat 64 clearance.
But back came the Jester. Runs of 48 and 57 drew him level, while a tremendous clearance of 90 put him ahead for the first time in the final.
He then dominated the next two frames to guarantee an overnight lead of 10-7; meaning the opening day of the Crucible final has now concluded with that scoreline in five of the last six years.
But despite trailing, there is hope for Murphy, who overturned a 10-6 deficit to capture the World crown back in 2005. A fightback of a similar nature is required on Monday if he is to become a multiple Crucible champion.