Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy are locked together at 4-4 after the first session of their World Championship quarter final.
Trump, the 2019 champion, has been a shade below his imperious best so far at the Crucible and it was a similar story against Murphy.
But he scrapped his way through the opening session and will be happy to have shared the eight frames knowing he has plenty of improvement in his locker.
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Murphy knocked in an excellent starting red and had a couple of openings, but broke down on both occasions and Trump pounced with a break of 87 to get the opening frame on the board.
Both players appeared concerned by the cue ball, with Eurosport co-commentator Anthony Hamilton suggesting it may have been a shade light, and it was replaced at the conclusion of the first frame.
Both players passed up early chances in the second, suggesting nerves as much as the cue ball were the issue, but Murphy pounced on Trump missing a red into the left middle to roll in an 80 to get on the board.
Quick-fire snooker was predicted between two free-flowing players, and the first mini-session delivered. They split the third and fourth frames, to head into the interval at 2-2 after 53 minutes of play.
Murphy, in his first quarter-final appearance at the Crucible since 2015, won a safety battle at the start of the fifth frame, but was undone by a horrid kick when attempting a red with the rest. However, he was not punished as Trump broke down on 44 when missing a red into the right middle and Murphy hoovered up an 81 to lead.
The 2005 champion Murphy came into the Crucible with no form to his name, and had spoken about how he struggled during the year of Covid-19 restrictions. However, he has found some confidence in Sheffield and looked sharp against Trump.
The sixth was the first drawn-out frame of the contest and felt like a big one for Trump after his missed red in the fifth. The world number one needed a couple of bites to get over the line, but he worked a chance on the final red and was able to take the colours required to level.
Trump got a huge slice of luck to help him claim the seventh frame. An excellent safety from Murphy put his opponent in trouble. Trump went for an audacious cushion-first pot, but did not make contact. However, the cue ball went safe and in attempting to clear a red over the pocket, Murphy let in the world number one. To Trump's credit, he knocked in an excellent 105 to edge into the lead at 4-3.
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After his century in the seventh, Trump had a chance to win the session when presented with a chance in the eighth.
However, he missed a pink into the left middle and Murphy was able to scrap his way to level terms - which is the least he deserved after producing the better snooker of the two.
Mark Selby took an iron grip on his quarter final with Mark Williams after opening up a 6-2 lead.
Selby has looked extremely sharp in Sheffield and he carried the form from his wins over Kurt Maflin and Mark Allen into his meeting with Williams.
Williams is one of the grittiest players in the game, but he had no answers against a player whose pot success was in the high nineties for much of the session.
The only crumb of comfort for Williams was taking the final frame with an excellent century to keep himself in the hunt.
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