Mark Williams is just three frames from a third World Snooker Championship title, though a rally by John Higgins ensured that the final wasn’t over with a session to spare.

The Welsh man, who leads 15 frames to ten, held a 10-7 overnight lead and the four frames before Monday afternoon's mid-session interval all went his way, with the 43-year-old bidding to add to his 2000 and 2003 triumphs.

It meant that at 14-7 Williams was just four frames away from the winning line, and Higgins had a mountain to climb as he targeted a fifth trophy success in Sheffield.

Williams made five breaks of over 50 in the mini-session, while Higgins scored a paltry 31 points.

There was even the possibility of Williams winning with a session to spare, with Higgins needing to take one of the four remaining frames this afternoon to take the match into the evening.

The last final to finish with a session to spare was in 1993 when Stephen Hendry beat Jimmy White 18-5.

The prospect of an early finish was ended by the Scottish potter winning the first frame after the resumption, with a break of 67 sparing him from what would have been an embarrassing scenario.

He was suddenly right back to his best, and a 72 clearance won him the 23rd frame after Williams had opened with a run of 65.

The Crucible spectators were anticipating a moment of history in the next, as Higgins chased what would have been the first 147 maximum break in a world final.

He sank 10 reds and blacks but then wobbled the 11th red around the jaws of a corner pocket and the chance slipped by.

It put him 14-10 behind with one frame of the afternoon remaining. He had a chance to cut Williams' lead to 14-11 but missed a difficult red and let in his opponent to make a frame-sealing 34 break.

The 15-10 scoreline as they departed the arena made Williams a firm favourite to lift the trophy.

The contest was due to resume at 7pm, with Williams three frames short of the victory target.