Jack Lisowski forged a 5-4 lead in his World Snooker Championship opener against Ding Junhui as the clash lived up to its billing as the tie of the round.

Lisowski, who reached the quarter-finals at the Crucible in 2022, had to qualify for this year’s tournament after dropping out of the top 16, beating Matthew Stevens 10-3 last week to book his ticket.

But after falling behind early on against Ding, Lisowski looked back to his best as he edged a highly entertaining first session.

Lisowski, 32, looked in danger of being blown away by Ding on Tuesday morning as the 2016 finalist flew out of the blocks, compiling a clearance worth 127 to win the opening frame.

The Chinese star then enjoyed a huge slice of luck in the second as he fluked a red into a middle pocket early on, but a missed black at 23-0 opened the door for Lisowski to pot his first ball of the day.

Lisowski was only able to score a solitary point at that visit before letting Ding back in, though, and he finished the frame with a break of 60 to make it 2-0.

The Englishman hit back in the next, rattling off a break of 72 to reduce Ding’s lead to one.

And Lisowski went into the mid-session interval tied at 2-2 courtesy of a break of 91 in the fourth frame.

Ding displayed his brilliant battling qualities in the fifth frame as he conjured a 98 to edge ahead once more.

An attritional sixth frame, which lasted more than half an hour as a tactical battle broke out, went Lisowski’s way as he drew level.

But Ding made quick work of the next frame, winning it with a break of 90 to go 4-3 up before Lisowski took the eighth.

And Lisowski won the final frame of the session to lead for the first time in the match.

Former finalist Kyren Wilson has one foot in the second round after storming into an 8-1 lead against Welshman Dominic Dale, who is making his Crucible comeback after a 10-year absence.

Wilson started brightly, winning the first two frames before Dale seemed set to get his first frame on the board after opening up a 30-0 lead in the third.

But Wilson made Dale pay for missing the pink as he roared back with a break of 75 to take a 3-0 lead.

Dale was not to be denied in the fourth frame, though, producing a stunning break of 120 to get on the scoreboard.

Wilson regained command immediately after the interval with a phenomenal break of 123 before a 98 in the next frame moved him 5-1 in front.

Englishman Wilson then showed exceptional nerve to come from behind to win the next frame 74-70 to extend his lead to five.

Wilson’s dominance continued as he won the next two frames with breaks of 77 and 73 to extend his massive lead.

History-chasing Ronnie O’Sullivan will start the World Snooker Championship against Jackson Page as reigning champion Luca Brecel faces David Gilbert.

The sport’s best take to the green baize at the Crucible from Saturday, with the winner crowned in Sheffield on Sunday, May 6.

Seven-time world champion O’Sullivan begins his quest for an unprecedented eighth title of the modern era against 22-year-old Welshman Page this weekend.

Brecel beat Mark Selby in last year’s final and the Belgian gets his defence under way against Gilbert.

Last year’s runner-up Selby will take on Joe O’Connor in all-Leicester encounter, while third seed Judd Trump will play Hossein Vafaei in an exciting first-round clash.

Fourth seed Mark Allen faces Robbie Williams in the first round, with sixth seed Mark Williams taking on Si Jiahui.

Luca Brecel rendered Mark Selby’s maximum a distant memory as he fired four centuries to fashion a 15-10 lead after a high-quality penultimate session of their World Snooker Championship final at the Crucible.

Looking utterly undaunted by the biggest occasion of his career, the 28-year-old Belgian moved just three frames away from becoming the first winner of the title from mainland Europe, and the first overseas winner since Neil Robertson in 2010.

Selby had entered the session on a high after Sunday evening’s stunning 147 but it was Brecel who rose to the occasion, blasting three of those hundred breaks in the first four frames as he turned his 9-8 overnight lead into a 13-8 advantage.

The four-time champion looked distinctly out of sorts, cueing up many of Brecel’s chances by leaving reds dangling desperately over corner pockets, but no-one would have expected anything less than one of his trademark stirring fightbacks.

Just as he dredged his way back to win previous finals over Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins, Selby launched his assault straight after the interval, despite some sterling resistance from Brecel who reclaimed the majority of a 68-point deficit.

Selby also took what felt like a pivotal 23rd frame, as he clawed back from 41 points behind and got the better of a lengthy safety battle on the last red to reduce the deficit once again to 13-10.

But if there ever was a sign that Brecel was unfazed it came in the next frame when the Belgian built on a brilliant opening red to serve up his fourth century of the session, a nerveless 119, to restore his four-frame advantage.

For all his centuries, it was arguably Brecel’s brilliant clearance to pink in the final frame of the session that was most impressive, as he wiped out Selby’s 40-point lead to move three frames away from claiming his maiden crown.

Mark Selby made the first maximum break in a World Snooker Championship final as he reeled off the final three frames of an exhilarating opening day to trail Belgium’s Luca Brecel 9-8 overnight at the Crucible.

Forty years after Cliff Thorburn compiled the first 147 in the tournament, four-time champion Selby polished off the 15th to add his name to the list of history-makers at the famous venue.

Selby’s maximum earned him a share of the £40,000 tournament highest break prize with Kyren Wilson, who also made a 147 in his first-round win over Ryan Day.

His achievement capped an absorbing first two sessions in which Brecel threatened to pot his way into a significant lead only for the 39-year-old to show all of his renowned tenacity to drag himself back into contention ahead of Monday’s conclusion.

Twice previously in finals, against Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins, Selby has trailed heavily only to roar back and clinch victory and he is now a heavy favourite to finish the job against Brecel, who before this year had not won a match in five visits to the Crucible.

Having carved a reputation as a comeback king after his wins over O’Sullivan and Si Jiahui, the Belgian found himself in uncharted territory as a front-runner after blazing a trail with some epic long pots to take the first session 6-2.

Breaks of 77 and 90 helped him punish Selby, who uncharacteristically missed an easy brown and two blacks off their spots and was seemingly suffering after his early-hours semi-final win over Mark Allen the previous night.

In a thrilling start to the evening session, Selby summoned a 134 total clearance only for Brecel to respond with a high-octane 99, including a series of trick-shots on the colours, to immediately restore his four-frame advantage.

But Brecel’s potting prowess was matched by a growing tendency to miss easy balls, and after potting a series of impressive long shots in the next he missed a comparatively easy red, allowing Selby to post a break of 96 to narrow the deficit to 7-4.

Another missed opportunity enabled Selby to recover Brecel’s 42-point head-start and win frame 12, but the Belgian responded well with breaks of 72 and 67 after the mid-session interval to pull 9-5 in front.

It was classic Selby territory, however, and he punished a careless Brecel split with a break of 61 before summoning his historic maximum, completed with the minimum of fuss after plucking the final problematic red away from the side cushion.

Referee Brendan Moore, officiating in his third and last Crucible final before retirement, was the first to congratulate Selby, who was also embraced warmly by a smiling Brecel.

The Belgian looked set to extend his overnight advantage when he went 48 points clear in the final frame of the evening but Selby typically managed to refocus and take the frame to leave a thrilling 2023 final on a knife-edge.

Comeback king Luca Brecel revelled in his new role as a front-runner after dominating the opening session of the World Snooker Championship final against four-time winner Mark Selby at the Crucible.

The Belgian, who reeled off seven straight frames to sink Ronnie O’Sullivan in the last eight and then 11 in a row to overcome Si Jiahui, continued his exhilarating progress as he soared into a 6-2 lead ahead of their resumption later on Sunday.

Brecel’s high-octane approach was underscored in the final frame of the session when he clattered the cue-ball into the pack, scattering reds around the table and gifting him the chance to mop up with a break of 70.

In contrast, there were worrying signs for Selby, not-so-fresh from his early hours semi-final win over Mark Allen, who missed a number of early chances and produced rare errors in his safety game that were brutally exposed by the buoyant 28-year-old.

Brecel, having never won a match in five previous visits to the Crucible, continued his apparently nerveless approach by reeling off the first three frames including breaks of 77 and 90.

Errors littered Selby’s game, including two missed blacks off their spots, and he could have been further punished in the fourth frame when he ran aground on 36, only for Brecel to leave a red dangling over the middle pocket.

Selby, however, failed to capitalise on getting his first frame on the board. Brecel pressed further ahead after a well-crafted break of 67, then got the better of a lengthy safety exchange to clinch the sixth by cutting in a tight blue.

Even when Selby responded with a frame-winning break of 62 in the next, the questions remained, as another missed black briefly tempted Brecel back to the table in search of snookers.

He quickly aborted his unlikely mission, preferring to get back to what he did best, and it was not long before his aggressive approach paid dividends once again as he ended the afternoon with a four-frame advantage.

Four-time champion Mark Selby came through a late-night battle with Mark Allen to set up a World Snooker Championship final with Crucible history maker Luca Brecel.

The 39-year-old was embroiled in a tense thriller with the Northern Irishman, eventually getting over the line with a 17-15 victory at 12.48am on Sunday morning – just 12 hours before the final is due to start.

Selby, who last won the tournament in 2021, probably thought he would have been done and dusted much earlier as five successive frames at the start of Saturday’s evening session put him one away from victory shortly before 10pm.

Yet, he had to wait the best part of three hours before potting the final ball as Allen hit back with five successive frames of his own and threatened to take it even deeper into the night.

Selby said: “I was just happy to get over the line, I felt I played well from 11-10 to 16-10 and then missed a couple of chances.

“At 16-15 he probably goes favourite because he had the momentum. It means everything to be back, I want to try and win it now I’m in the final.

“I don’t feel too bad right now, but I haven’t been sleeping too well while I’ve been here. If I don’t sleep well tonight there is something wrong.

“Luca will be fresh, he has had a night off, but if it means I only get 10 hours and playing in the World Championship final, I’d rather have that than have 24 hours off and be driving home.”

While Selby will have a quick turnaround before Sunday’s final, Brecel will have been tucked up and relaxed after he created history earlier in the day in his semi-final win over Si Jiahui.

The Belgian, who conquered Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-final, produced the largest comeback at the famous Sheffield venue, winning 11 frames on the spin to turn a 14-5 deficit into a 17-14 victory.

He became the first player in Crucible history to overturn a nine-frame deficit and booked his first World Championship final, having never previously got past the first round.

Brecel said of his miraculous recovery against the 20-year-old Chinese debutant: “At 14-12, 14-13 I knew I had a chance, but I think 14-14 I was really believing it because I could see he was struggling and I was playing great stuff.

“But I knew I could have lost as well. To win is absolutely unbelievable, it is the biggest game of my life. I was in disbelief, I was shaking.

“The whole game I was expecting to lose, even with a session to spare, so to even have a chance to win was the craziest feeling ever in my body and I can’t believe I did it.

“I have never won a game here and now I am in the final, it is some story. It is going to take a while to sink in.”

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