Mark Selby claimed the opening six frames of the World Snooker Championship final but will only take a 10-7 lead into day two after a spirited fightback by Ding Junhui on Sunday.
The tournament's first Asian finalist looked a shadow of the player who scored a record seven centuries in a high-quality semi-final victory against Alan McManus in the early stages.
Selby - showing no signs of fatigue following a late-night last-four win over Marco Fu - won the second frame after needing a snooker and Ding failed to make the most of opportunities when they fell his way, conceding 325 points without reply at one stage.
The Chinese recovered to salvage the closing two frames of the opening session and, after losing the first frame of the second, began to make further inroads into Selby's lead.
Looking more relaxed than he had done during his slow start, Ding fired in a brilliant century in frame 11, before an 89 won him the next.
Ding then survived a marathon tactical battle in the 66-minute 15th to close within a frame of Selby, who will be grateful of a three-frame cushion after claiming the final two of the day, with tiredness leading to mistakes by both players in a lengthy last.
Ding looked set to wrap up the second frame and level at 1-1 until an ambitious cut on a green to the centre pocket failed to find its intended target. Selby managed to produce the snooker required and cleared to strike an early blow to Ding's confidence, a setback that unquestionably contributed to his malaise over subsequent frames. Ding's later fightback minimised the impact of his nightmare start, but one cannot help but wonder whether he would have fallen so far behind in the first place had he successfully put the second frame to bed.
Selby destined for greatness?
Selby is chasing his second world crown and would be in illustrious company should he complete the feat - Stephen Hendry (seven), Steve Davis (six), Ronnie O'Sullivan (five), John Higgins (four) and Mark Williams (two) make up the list of players to have triumphed at the Crucible on more than one occasion. Ding, meanwhile, is looking to become the first qualifier to lift the trophy since Shaun Murphy in 2005.
Frame by frame
Mark Selby (Eng) 10-7 Ding Junhui (Chn)
125-8, 70-68, 101-43, 124-0, 100-0, 77-38, 47-68, 14-107, 73-22, 30-92, 1-103, 49-93, 71-1, 0-86, 52-82, 86-25, 67-27.