Defending champion Mark Williams secured a 6-3 advantage over Martin Gould heading into the concluding session of his first round tie on day one at the Betfred World Championship in Sheffield.
Three-time Crucible king Williams recorded a memorable victory 12 months ago, winning a classic final with John Higgins 18-16. The Welshman ended a run of 15-years since his last World Championship win in 2003.
Gould secured his place at snooker’s Theatre of Dreams after coming through the treacherous qualifying process last week. He defeated Daniel Wells 10-8 in the final round to progress.
It was 2016 German Masters winner Gould who started fastest this morning. He got the event underway in style with a fine break of 64 to go 1-0 up.
However, 22-time ranking event winner Williams responded emphatically. Breaks of 55, 54 and 129 helped him to take five frames on the bounce and move into a commanding 5-1 lead.
Gould hit back in the following frames, including a 62 break to take the seventh. He potted a superb final black from long range to make it 5-3.
Williams wasn’t to be denied his three-frame lead going into tonight, firing in a break of 97 to emerge from the session 6-3 up. They return at 7pm to play the best of 19 match to a conclusion.
Luca Brecel secured a slender 5-4 lead over Gary Wilson in their opening round clash.
Belgium’s Brecel is competing at the Crucible as a seed for the second time this year. The world number 14 hasn’t produced his best snooker this term. However, he appears to be moving back to form after an impressive run to the semi-finals of the recent China Open.
Brecel composed breaks of 74, 88 and 131 as he moved into a 5-3 lead. Wallsend’s Wilson ensured he stayed in touch going into the concluding session, making a break of 72 to end play just one frame behind.
The pair will play to a finish tomorrow afternoon at 2:30pm.