Shaun Murphy won the last two frames of the opening session of the Betway UK Championship final to stand level at 4-4 against Ronnie O’Sullivan.
The contest is perfectly poised going into the concluding session which starts at 7pm. First to ten frames will win the title and a top prize of £170,000.
O’Sullivan is aiming to win his sixth UK title and the 18th Triple Crown event of his career, which would equal records held by Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry respectively. He is also trying to win his 31st ranking title and third within seven weeks having captured the English Open in October and the Shanghai Masters in November.
Murphy hopes to win his second UK title, having lifted the trophy in 2008, and his eighth career ranking title. Last month he beat O’Sullivan 10-8 in the final of the Champion of Champions, a result which gives him a confidence boost for today’s showpiece match in York.
World number six Murphy made a superb start today with a break of 123 to take the opening frame. O’Sullivan hit back with 62 and 103 to lead 2-1 , and he made a 62 in the next only for Murphy to snatch it with a 39 clearance.
World number four O’Sullivan regained the lead in a scrappy fifth frame then cleared from brown to black in the next to go 4-2 up. Murphy made a 69 in the seventh to halve his deficit.
O’Sullivan looked set to take the last frame of the session until he missed a red to a centre pocket on 52. Murphy responded with an excellent 52 clearance to get back on level terms. The match resumes at 7pm.