John Higgins produced a late fightback in the third session of the World Snooker Championship final but still trails Mark Williams 15-10 at the Crucible Theatre.
Williams ended the second session last night by winning three frames on the bounce and walked out to a packed arena this afternoon leading Higgins 10-7.
Any hopes Higgins had for a fast start were quickly dampened with a fluke getting Williams under way and allowing him to compile a frame-winning break of 61.
A tricky missed red from Higgins in the next helped Williams to chalk up another frame and things got even better for the Welsh potter when a clearance of 56 put him six clear.
Williams was easing through the gears now and looked to have finished Higgins off when winning the fourth frame of the afternoon, leaving the arena for the mid-session interval with a 14-7 lead.
However, Higgins returned from the break in defiant mood and managed to pull one back with a run of 67 before pouncing on a Williams mistake to pinch the next with a fabulous clearance of 76.
Higgins looked a different animal by this point and had the crowd on the edge of their seats when potting ten reds and ten blacks in frame 24.
Though the maximum was foiled when a mid-range red rattled the jaws, that break of 80 was enough to give Higgins a third frame on the spin.
Williams would have the final say, though, taking the last frame of the session to edge one step closer to a third world title, with three more required.
Higgins must take the final session 8-2 or better to perform an unlikely comeback, and he's 16/1 to win 18-17 with Sky Bet.
Play resumes at 7pm.