Robertson draws first blood as Aussie edges into narrow lead against Murphy
Neil Robertson led Shaun Murphy 5-3 following a high-quality opening session of the BGC Masters final at Alexandra Palace.
Robertson won the final two frames before the break to establish a two-frame lead in a fiercely-contested match that ebbed and flowed.
The rivals proved difficult to separate but it was Robertson, the 27-year-old from Australia, who held his nerve in a tense eighth frame to build a strong position.
On top: Neil Robertson made his mark during the opening session
Play will resume with Murphy, ranked sixth in the world, hoping for a swift response to prevent the final from slipping away.
Murphy was forced to escape a tricky snooker at the business end of a close but error-strewn opening frame, but he left the final red open and Robertson pounced.
He produced breaks of 17 and 13 sandwiched by a nip-and-tuck positional battle over the pink, with Murphy blundering first to concede the frame.
A long-range red gave Robertson a promising start to the second, but Murphy took control with a score of 65 doing the real damage.
Murphy built momentum in the latter stage of the third, finishing with a break of 102 that ended when he potted the white while cueing for the pink.
Heating up: Robertson and Shaun Murphy look set for an intriguing battle
The fourth was equally one-sided, but this time it was Robertson who dominated with a closing 103 to level the score at 2-2 at the interval.
The pressure mounted during yet another tight frame as an underhit thin red cost Murphy his chance to force his way back into contention and Robertson rallied.
But a marathon sixth saw Murphy strike back, putting a see-saw opening behind him to hit 53 and force Robertson to concede the frame.
Wonderful control of the cue ball saw Robertson pot a key green on the way to compiling a 72 in a one-sided seventh frame.
Fightback: Murphy will need to hit the ground running in the second session
A superb pink that also separated the pack of reds saw Murphy take control of the eighth, only for his visit to the table on end on 46.
The tension mounted as Robertson complied 60 to put him on the brink of victory, but he was then foiled by missing a routine blue.
Trailing by 12 points, Murphy failed twice on the green, allowing Robertson to produce a super shot on the blue that swept him into a two-frame lead heading into the break.