World number nine Stephen Lee is looking favourite to book his place in the last 16 of the Embassy World Championship having taken a commanding 6-3 lead over Maltese star Tony Drago.
Wiltshire’s Lee won a scrappy first frame with a break of 41, before Drago hit back with a 45 clearance.
But Lee, a semi-finalist in 2003 and twice a quarter-finalist, then knocked in back-to-back centuries to forge 3-1 ahead.
Lee was soon 4-1 ahead courtesy of runs of 38 and 49 respectively in the fifth frame, but Drago snatched frame six to reduce his arrears.
However, Lee won the next two frames, the seventh littered with fouls, and then won the penultimate frame of the session to give himself a four-frame cushion for the first time in the match.
Drago, though, hit back with runs of 33 and 27 in the final frame after Lee had twice been at the table and could have opened up a five-frame advantage before the two players resume tomorrow afternoon at 2pm.