John Higgins took an iron grip of the Players Championship final after racing into a 6-2 lead over Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Both players came into the contest in decent touch, but there was only one player in consistently good form in the first session of the match.
Higgins knocked in breaks of 92, 142 and 138 to leave O’Sullivan facing a mountain to climb if he is to secure his 38th ranking-tournament victory.
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Nerves were apparent in the first frame, with both players making errors.
Higgins looked the more settled, but called a foul on himself when striking the black with his cue when potting the pink.
O’Sullivan did not take advantage of the unexpected chance, and Higgins closed out the opening frame of the contest.
Higgins was high on confidence coming into the match after losing only one frame on his run to the final, and he showed his class with a break of 92 which came despite him running out of position on a number of occasions and making excellent rescue pots.
It was early in the contest in frame three, but there was an air of desperation about O’Sullivan’s play as he attempted - and comprehensively failed - to pot his way out of trouble. After a series of misses, Higgins got in and knocked in a 68 to move three to the good.
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Higgins piled more pressure on O’Sullivan in the final frame before the interval, as he rolled in his sixth century of the tournament - a total clearance of 142 - to keep his opponent stone cold.
The pain continued for O’Sullivan after the interval, as he narrowly missed a long red into the bottom-left corner and could only watch on as Higgins mopped up a clearance of 138.
A rare Higgins miss in the sixth frame handed a glimmer to O’Sullivan and he took it. The world champion got in off the back of an excellent black across the bottom rail and he capitalised with a break of 82 to gain a foothold in the contest.
After getting a frame on the board, O’Sullivan's play in the seventh was reckless in the extreme. Safety was not even contemplated, and while he knocked in a couple of excellent pots he gave a chance to Higgins when leaving a difficult green in the jaws and the Scot took a scrappy frame to move 6-1 ahead.
O'Sullivan's body language was not positive, but he ended the session on a high with a century break of 144 - the highest of the tournament - to trail by four ahead of the evening session.
Higgins remains firm favourite as he needs four more frames to take the title, but O'Sulllivan cannot be counted out if he brings what he produced in the eighth to the table.
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