Neil Robertson is just one frame away from becoming the second player to whitewash his opponent in a two-session ranking event final as he leads Zhou Yuelong 8-0 at the BetVictor European Masters.
The only previous whitewash in a ranking final of similar length came at the 1989 Grand Prix when Steve Davis beat Dean Reynolds 10-0.
Victory would give Robertson his 17th ranking title, moving him level with Mark Selby in sixth place on the all-time list. It would be his first ranking title of the season, though he did win the invitational Champion of Champions in November.
The winner’s cheque would give the 37-year-old Australian an early lead in the race to claim the £150,000 bonus in the new BetVictor European Series.
China’s 22-year-old Zhou, playing in his first ranking final, would need an unprecedented fight-back tonight to avoid the runner-up prize of £35,000.
Zhou had chances in the first two frames but couldn’t take them, allowing his opponent to forge ahead. In the opener, Zhou might have cleared from 45-0 down, but failed to gain position on the final blue. A safety exchange on the pink ended when Zhou’s safety error left it over a middle pocket, and Robertson took the opportunity.
The second came down to the last red and again it was Robertson who got the better of the tactical battle, trapping his opponent in a tough snooker, and from the chance that followed he cleared for 2-0. Zhou failed to trouble the scoreboard in the next three frames as Robertson fired breaks of 99, 128 and 82 to lead 5-0.
At that stage Zhou was at the wrong end of a sequence of 410 unanswered points. He ended that run in frame six, but when it came to the last three reds he failed to escape from a snooker and Robertson added the points he needed to extend his advantage.
Runs of 29 and 34 helped Robertson dominate frame seven, and he finished the session superbly with a 109, his seventh century of the week.
The match resumes at 8pm local time.
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