Ding Junhui scored four centuries to take a 6-2 lead in the opening session of the World Championship semi-final against fellow qualifier Alan McManus.
China’s Ding was in awesome form from the start, opening with a break of 100 and scoring two further tons and two half-centuries to go 5-0 up.
McManus, who at 45 is the oldest man to reach a Crucible semi since Ray Reardon in 1985, had scored just 47 points.
He won two tactical frames to get back to 5-2, before Ding ended with a 128.
Scotland’s McManus, who last made a Crucible semi-final in 1993, had every minor mistake punished by the world number 17 in the first five frames.
Ding, 29, is bidding to become the first Asian to win the sport’s showpiece event, and the final could yet be an all-Asian affair, with Hong Kong’s world number 14 Marco Fu playing Mark Selby in the other last-four tie.
The chances of Ding progressing a session early looked strong after his astonishing start, but McManus got back in the match in two frames that lasted more than 20 minutes each.
The match resumes on Friday morning at 10:00 BST.
Fu takes on Leicester’s Selby in the second semi-final from 19:00 BST on Thursday.
John Parrott, 1991 world champion: “Ding was superb. His break building and his match play has been fantastic, and to be honest I think he needed to win the last frame. The way he dominated the session, if he hadn’t come out of it at least 6-2 he would have been kicking himself.”
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