York final set for late finish
Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy were set for a late-night finish in the final of the UK Championship as they remained locked together in York.
From 4-4 at the end of the afternoon action they progressed to 6-6 by the evening mid-session interval, meaning there were still a possible seven frames to play in the best-of-19 clash.
An early morning finish was a distinct possibility as the close friends off the table jostled for the £125,000 top prize and prestige of winning snooker's second most important ranking title.
It was no surprise the final was proving closely fought, with both men having to rely on their battling tendencies to last the distance at the Barbican Centre.
Selby came from 4-0 behind to beat Neil Robertson 6-4 in the quarter-finals, while Murphy produced the tournament's finest fightback to stun Ali Carter in their semi-final, recovering from 8-4 adrift to win 9-8.
When the final got under way, Murphy edged ahead after a wretched escape attempt by Selby from a safety gave him an early chance to put points on the board.
Murphy then led 49-0 in the second, but he was unfortunate to pot the cue ball as well as a long red and Selby fired in a frame-clinching 54 break, which he followed with a 66 to take the next.
Fine breaks of 83 and 98 either side of the mid-session interval allowed Murphy to move 3-2 in front, and it was 4-2 after the Sale-based 30-year-old edged a scrappy sixth frame that lasted 52 minutes.
Selby trimmed Murphy's lead with a 70 break and by taking the last of the session ensured there was nothing between the players again.
This was the first all-English final at the UK Championship since Jimmy White beat John Parrott in 1992 and there was plenty riding on it, with Murphy seeking his first ranking title for over 18 months and Selby bidding to lift his maiden UK Championship.
Selby, who will reclaim the world number one ranking from Judd Trump tomorrow due to his run in York, has a disappointing return of just two ranking titles in his career.
Although he has also lifted the Masters trophy twice, Selby's haul does his ability little justice, and the same could be said of Murphy's total of four rankings titles.
One of them will boost their total, but the early evidence pointed only to a close finish rather than which man would come out on top.
A 58 break from Selby and two Murphy fouls saw the 29-year-old Leicester man pull 66-0 in the opening frame of the evening session, before he fouled on the black and Murphy fired in a clearance of 65 to edge 5-4 ahead.
Selby hustled his way to the next two frames to lead 6-5 before breaks of 39 and 38 from Murphy levelled the match again.