Ali Carter is just four frames away from winning the F66.com German Masters having taken a 5-3 lead over Anthony Hamilton in the first session of the final.
Hamilton has knocked out the likes of Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham this week in Berlin, but finished his semi-final at 1am this morning and has seemed jaded in the final so far.
Carter, who has won all four of their previous meetings, has made fewer mistakes and remains favourite to land the 80,000 Euro top prize – though he may feel he should have been further ahead after the opening session.
Victory would make Carter the first player to win this title twice at the Tempodrom as he beat Marco Fu in the 2013 final. He’s aiming for the fifth ranking title of his career and trying to win two in the same season for the first time, having landed the World Open crown in July.
The 37-year-old from Chelmsford, playing in his eighth ranking final, is currently ranked 14th but would move up to ninth if he lifts the trophy tonight. He would also become the only player other than Mark Selby to win more than one ranking title this season.
Hamilton is playing in the third ranking event final of his career – and first for 15 years – having lost to Fergal O’Brien at the 1999 British Open and Mark Williams at the 2002 China Open. Often described as the best player never to win a ranking event, the world number 66 from Nottingham could lose that tag tonight. Victory would move him up to 38th in the world. Even defeat would leave him 52nd, a remarkable turnaround for a player who almost dropped off the pro tour last season.
At the age of 45, Hamilton is aiming to become the oldest winner of a ranking event since Doug Mountjoy won the 1989 Classic at the age of 46. Hamilton is the already the oldest ranking event finalist since a 48-year-old Steve Davis was denied the UK Championship title in 2005.
Hamilton had a chance to win the opening frame but missed the final yellow with the rest and Carter cleared. The next two frames were both scrappy affairs but both were dominated by Carter as he went 3-0 ahead. And he might have extended his lead but missed a red to a top corner on 35 in frame four. Hamilton’s 46 gave him control and he later knocked the last red into a baulk corner and added the points he needed to make it 3-1 at the interval.
Carter trailed 37-4 in frame five when he botched a safety shot, allowing his opponent to make 24 which closed the gap to 3-2. Essex cueman Carter then found some fluency as a break of 100 doubled his lead. He made 54 in frame seven before missing the black off its spot, but Hamilton was unable to capitalise and fell 5-2 behind.
In the last frame of the session, Carter led 28-3 when he missed a difficult plant on two reds. Hamilton responded with 56 then played safe with one red left, and when he later the potted the red he was sure of a 5-3 scoreline which gives him hope going into the concluding session.
They resume at 8pm local time with first to nine frames to receive the trophy.