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Mark Selby held off a stunning fightback from Ding Junhui to lead 10-7 after a marathon first day of the World Championship final at the Crucible.
Ding, playing in his first final, endured a nightmare start as nerves and the pressure of becoming the first Chinese world champion told as Selby raced into a 6-0 lead.
Selby, the 2014 champion, played terrific snooker with breaks of 91, 76, 70 and 120 helped him establish a commanding advantage.
But Ding fought back to take the last two frames of the afternoon session but despite Selby taking the first frame of the evening session, Ding made breaks of 76,103 (his 13th century of the tournament) and then 89 to cut the score to just 7-5.
The 29-year-old then won two of the next three frames, including a marathon 15th frame to trail by 8-7.
However, Selby, despite being visibly tired, pinched the final two frames as play finished at 12.24am, and punched the table in celebration.
Ding is bidding to become only the third qualifier after Terry Griffiths in 1979 and Shaun Murphy in 2005 to lift the trophy, and the first Asian world champion. He would also be just the fourth player from outside the UK to win snooker's biggest prize.
The final resumes at 2pm on Monday, with the last session due to start at 7pm.