Ronnie O’Sullivan and Neil Robertson are locked together at 4-4 after a high-quality first session of the Tour Championship final.
After the first four frames were shared, Robertson went up a gear to put daylight between himself and O’Sullivan.
However, the world champion responded by taking the final two frames of the afternoon to set things up nicely for a Sunday night main course.
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The pair will return for the evening session, 10 is the magic number, with the match in the balance as both are in prime form having shared four centuries in eight frames.
O’Sullivan took the first, scrappy frame as he took a lead that Robertson could not challenge with an awkward spread of balls on the table, leading the Australian to concede at 63-17.
Robinson looked to be putting Barry Hawkins’ high-break £10,000 bonus at risk when he hit the first century of the match, but could only reach 103 to leave the prize intact for the Englishman.
O’Sullivan then hit back with a century break of his own of 128 to reclaim the lead going into the penultimate mid-session frame.
In the fourth frame, Robertson put 70 on the scoreboard to leave Sullivan with everything to do to stay ahead before the break.
But the Rocket was unable to force enough errors to warrant staying at the table.
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Robertson resumed after the interval in imperious style, as he seized on a sloppy safety from O’Sullivan to knock in a break of 133 to move ahead for the first time in the match.
The Australian spoke following his semi-final win over Mark Selby how happy he was with his preparation and state of his game, and he looked like a confident player as he made it three frames on the spin to put daylight between the pair at 4-2.
O'Sullivan was on the back foot with Robertson asking some serious questions, but he responded in stunning style to take the seventh with a century, 133, in a shade over six minutes.
Robertson had a chance to secure a lead going into the evening session, but he ran out of position with a 52-point lead. The 2010 world champion left O’Sullivan a long red to go at, and he stroked it into the heart of the pocket to set up a counter of 68 which secured the eighth frame and left them on level terms ahead of the evening session.
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