Mark Selby made the most of a tentative start by Marco Fu to build a 5-3 lead in the opening session of their World Championship semi-final.
World number one Selby, the 2014 champion, looked impressive as he went 3-0 ahead with half-century breaks in frames two and three.
Hong Kong’s Fu hit back with a 72, and the pair shared four frames after the mid-session interval.
China’s Ding Junhui leads Alan McManus 6-2 in the other semi-final.
Both Ding and Fu are hoping to become the first Asian player to win the sport’s showpiece event.
But Fu’s chances appear fainter than Ding’s after a characteristically dogged effort by Leicester’s Selby in the best-of-33 contest.
Stubborn Selby holds sway
World number 14 Fu began anxiously, perhaps affected by the late jitters that saw him surrender a 9-1 lead in his 13-11 win over Barry Hawkins.
Selby won a scrappy opener in which both men wasted a couple of chances, and he also took the second frame with a diligent 56.
At 3-0 behind