Just a single frame separates Luca Brecel and Mark Selby in the final of the World Snooker Championship after the first two sessions of play on Sunday.
The two cuemen will return at 13:00 on Monday, with Brecel leading the Jester from Leicester 9-8 and the final will be played to a conclusion in the evening season, which gets underway at 19:00.
|What||Luca Brecel v Mark Selby|
|Where||Crucible Theatre, Sheffield|
|When||13:00 & 19:00 Monday|
|How to watch||bet365 Sports Live Streaming, BBC & Eurosport|
|Odds||Luca Brecel 6/4, Mark Selby 8/15|
The Belgian Bullet made a fast start to the final taking a 6-2 advantage and he entertained the crowd with some flamboyant shot-making.
Brecel made breaks of 67, 70, 77 and 90 to open up that first-session lead, but it was Selby that stole the break-building show in a magical moment.
The four-time world champion became the first player to make a maximum break in the final of the Sheffield showpeice and it prompted joyous scenes from the Crucible crowd.
Selby had cleared 14 reds followed by blacks, but the 39-year-old was faced with a tricky 15th red, and with expectation and pressure building, the Leicester potter kept his cool to make the pot.
That was a history-making break, and along with a run of 134, those efforts allowed Selby to close the gap on the fast-starting Belgian.
The first two sessions of play saw the 134 and 147 from Selby and those are the only two century breaks so far compiled in the final.
However, Brecel hit knocks of 67, 70, 72, 77, 90 and 99 in the opening 17 frames and, with Selby also contributing a run of 96, there may be more tons to follow.
It’s 5/6 that the 4.5 total centuries line is eclipsed, with two on the board in this best-of-35-frame match already, and if the contest continues to be as closely-fought it would be no surprise if that mark was busted.
The total frames line is in at 32.5, we may well get some late-night drama if the contest gets close to that mark and those that fancy Brecel to make another fast start this afternoon can back the Belgian to win the first frame of the session at 11/10.
The Jester from Leicester will return this afternoon as an 8/15 chance to land his fifth World Championship crown and it’s worth remembering that this is a potter that has won four of his five career Crucible finals.
Victory would make it five Sheffield titles in ten years for the 39-year-old in what is a truly incredible record.
Brecel is bidding to claim his maiden Sheffield showpiece title and it’s 6/4 that the 28-year-old goes on to lift the Crucible crown.
It marks a huge turnaround for the Dilsen-Stokkem potter, who had failed to even win a World Championship match prior to arriving in Sheffield this year.
The Belgian Bullet had lost in the first round in his five previous visits to Sheffield, and this season’s English Open winner, was rated a 33/1 shot to start in Sheffield prior to the tournament starting.
Brecel has played some fantastic snooker to beat top potters, Ricky Walden, Mark Williams, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Si Jiahui to make the final and that doesn’t tell anywhere near the full story of his journey.
The 28-year-old trailed Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-6 in the quarter-finals, but a barrage of breaks turned that game in favour of the Belgian Bullet and Brecel went on to win that contest 13-10.
That was an impressive comeback, but it looks rather insignificant when compared to what the Dilsen-Stokkem potter produced in the semi-finals.
The Belgian trailed Si 14-5 in their last-four showdown, but Brecel staged the greatest-ever Crucible comeback to reach the final a 17-15 winner.
Brecel won the opening frame of the final and he has maintained an advantage over the first 17 frames of play.
Clearly, the Dilsen-Stokkem cuemen’s chances of lifting the Crucible crown will increase the longer he can hold on to the lead, but from what we have seen in the tournament so far, falling behind will hold no fears for the 28-year-old.
After two weeks of thrilling baize battles, just one frame separates the two World Championship finalists and snooker fans are in for a treat in today’s final two acts of Crucible Theatre drama.