Outsider Shaun Murphy looked back to his best as he won three of the opening four frames against Matthews Stevens when the Embassy World Championship Final resumed in Sheffield.
Murphy, bidding to become the second youngest winner of the tournament after Stephen Hendry, was out of sorts on the opening day and trailed 10-6 overnight to the 2000 world runner-up.
But the born-again Christian, already guaranteed the biggest pay-day of his career of £125,000 (€184,318) even if he loses, had rid himself of the hesitancy and nerves of Sunday’s play.
Murphy needed to make an early impression if he was to repeat the achievements of Terry Griffiths who had been the last qualifier to triumph in 1979.
He immediately looked more comfortable and assured around the table and was soon into his stride.
Stevens then played a poor safety shot and a run of 28 was sufficient to seal the frame for Murphy.
A 51 break had put Murphy in control of the frame and, when Stevens played a poor safety shot, he was able to return to the table and cut his deficit to three frames.
It was a similar scenario in the next with Murphy compiling a 56 and then another below-par safety shot from Stevens allowed Murphy to seal frame 18.
There was plenty of pressure on Stevens, who has become known as the Crucible’s nearly man after losing the 2000 final plus three other semi-finals.
And he will have been aware of also leading 10-6 overnight against Mark Williams in his only final appearance five years ago before losing 18-16.
The Welshman managed to stop the rot in the next with the aid of a 38 but he did not look at his best and Murphy made him pay again in the final frame before the mid-session interval.
Stevens looked favourite with an initial break of 60 but he missed a red into the black pocket – and up stepped Murphy with an 80 clearance which meant he only trailed 11-9.