Douglas Ross has said it is “very touch-and-go” as to whether his party can hold on to the crucial Aberdeenshire West constituency.
The Scottish Conservative leader said the race with the SNP challenger was “very close”, but he had hopes Alexander Burnett could regain the seat.
Aberdeenshire West could be crucial in the party getting an overall majority at Holyrood if it is taken by its candidate Fergus Mutch.
Mr Ross told the PA news agency: “It’s very close, it’s extremely tight there.
“We knew it would be, the SNP have put an awful lot of effort in there.
“A candidate who’s stood there in multiple elections at a Westminster level so he’s well known.
“Alexander Burnett has worked that area extremely hard, he’s been an outstanding constituency MSP.
“I hope he’s done enough to get over the line but it’s very touch-and-go at the moment.”
He said it would be “interesting to see” how the Scottish Parliament will shape up once all votes are in, adding things were on a “knife-edge” as to whether the SNP will gain an overall majority.
The Highlands and Islands MSP hopeful claimed the result would “all come down to the crucial list votes”.
Tactical voting was said to have helped contribute to an increase in the Tory’s share of the vote in this election.
Mr Ross added he believed the Alba party’s introduction into Scottish politics had been more beneficial to the Greens, as it helped to illustrate to voters how the voting system operates.
Speaking at the count in Inverness, he said: “It certainly showed people that there was a real risk there, but it might actually be converse it wasn’t Alba that benefit from that but the Greens.
“Because Alba were also explaining that because of the system and the fact that it’s not a perfect system then you can vote for a party in the constituency and a different party on the list.
“Actually today I think at close of play the Greens have benefitted from the messaging that Alba were putting out at the start of this campaign.
On Alex Salmond, Mr Ross added: “He should never have come back – he was a totally unsuitable person to seek elected office again.
“I thought it was wrong for him to seek election again and the people of the north east have made it very clear they don’t want him.”