Ronnie O’Sullivan won five frames in a row to take a 6-2 lead over Mark Allen in the first session of the Betway UK Championship final in York.
O’Sullivan needs just four more frames when they resume at 7pm tonight to take the trophy and a top prize of £170,000.
That would make him the first player to win the UK Championship title seven times, moving him ahead of Steve Davis. And O’Sullivan would move to 19 career Triple Crown victories, one more than Stephen Hendry.
World number three O’Sullivan is on target to win his 34th career ranking title, which would move him within two of Hendry’s record of 36. And the 43-year-old from Chigwell is chasing his third title of the season having won the Shanghai Masters and Champion of Champions. Victory tonight would take his prize money for the season over £500,000 from just five tournaments.
Northern Ireland’s Allen is playing in his second UK final having lost to Judd Trump in 2011. He won his first Triple Crown title at the Masters earlier this year and also landed his fourth ranking title at the International Championship last month. But the 32-year-old will need to eliminate the errors in the concluding session to have a chance of fighting back.
Allen started strongly by clearing the colours to win a tight opening frame, before O’Sullivan levelled with a break of 101, the 986th century of his career. World number seven Allen regained the lead with a run of 74 before O’Sullivan made it 2-2 with an 85.
After the interval it was O’Sullivan who dominated as his opponent failed to take the chances which came his way in each frame. Breaks of 54, 66, 57 and 65 helped defending champion O’Sullivan establish a commanding advantage.