Kyren Wilson produced a stellar display to take command of his World Snooker Championship semi-final against Shaun Murphy and lead 6-2 after the opening session.
Wilson, the runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan in last year’s tournament at the Crucible, made three century breaks and at one stage delivered 248 unanswered points to open up a four-frame lead.
Murphy, whose defence was unusually slack, could have ended the evening with a 5-3 deficit after a rare Wilson error let him in but he missed a crucial red into the centre pocket and the 2005 champion will have to improve in Friday’s second session if he is to get back into the match.
After Murphy won the opening frame Wilson got into his groove, with a fine 110 in the third frame. Murphy was stuck to his seat as back-to-back centuries in frames five and six, breaks of 121 and 127, put Wilson 5-1 up and looking impossible to stop.
But Murphy stopped the rot with a gritty half-century break and should have stolen the final frame of the evening after Wilson, on the way to another century, fouled – but a clearance attempt ended when he missed the penultimate red into the middle pocket.
The quality of snooker on show was a big contrast to the first semi-final, which was dominated by complaints over the table, with “soft cushions” and a possibly defective cue ball blamed for some scrappy early play at the Crucible.
From the off the three-time former champion Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham, the 2015 winner, noticed the ball was not behaving as they expected as they found themselves out of position on a number of shots with the white regularly coming up short.
Tables were re-clothed before the semi-finals but Bingham could be seen mouthing “this is weird” during the first session, which ended 4-4. At the interval the match referee spoke to both players and the table was brushed heavily and the cue ball changed as Bingham felt that was the issue, although when asked Selby reportedly did not think that was the problem.
Selby had coped better with the strange conditions. Having lost the first frame to a 60 break by his opponent, he took a 3-1 lead into the first interval. Bingham was on a break of 46 before missing a blue but then Selby, with a chance to clean up, failed on a yellow at 56-31 – although it was not to prove detrimental as he later cut in a brilliant long yellow and cleared the table.
Selby took the next two frames but high breaks of 33 and 46 gave an indication of the troublesome table conditions. Whether the change of cue ball made a difference or whether it was psychological, Bingham looked a different player when they returned. A 92-break – the highest of the afternoon – immediately made it 3-2 before in the next frame Selby’s foul potting a red as he sank the blue offered Bingham, who had opened up with 36, the chance to return to the table and a break of 38 levelled the score.
Bingham breezed through the seventh with a run of 82 but after missing a brown on a break of 42, Selby responded to take the final frame and maintain his record of not being behind at the end of a session in the current championship.