Indian snooker Stars Take Centre Stage at Indian Open

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Aditya Mehta and Pankaj Advani Admit Nerves as Tournament Begins

INDIA’S snooker duo Aditya Mehta and Pankaj Advani admit they will suffer from nerves when they play in front of their own fans at the Indian Open this week.

The event in New Delhi from October 14 to 18 will be the first world ranking tournament ever staged in India, and the country’s two professional players will face a weight of expectation.

 

“I will be nervous and the first frame will be important because I will need to settle into the match quickly, especially as it’s only best of seven,” said Mehta, who faces Peter Ebdon in his first match at the Meridien Hotel.

 

“Peter is a former World Champion and he will be a very tough opponent. I won’t feel pressure from the crowd because the only expectation comes from myself. It’s an important tournament for me and I know I’m capable of winning matches.

 

“It will be the first time my parents have watched me play a professional match so it will be a special occasion for all of us.”

 

Mehta underlined his potential earlier this month when he beat world number eight Ricky Walden 6-2 to qualify for the final stages of the International Championship. 

“That was the biggest win of my career so far because Ricky is a top-eight player and I played well and beat him comfortably,” added the 28-year-old from Maharashtra. “It’s important to do well in the big tournaments as it helps me to climb the rankings. I haven’t climbed as quickly as I would have liked, but I am focussed and taking it one step at a time.

 

“My form overall has been good this season, I had a good run in the Paul Hunter Classic to the last 16 and won the gold medal at the World Games. So I have some momentum to take to India and hopefully I can keep it going.”

 

Advani agrees with his close friend that playing in the Indian Open for the first time will rank among his career highlights. “It’s extremely exciting. I will have a lot of friends and well-wishers there so I will have a few butterflies, but I have been playing professional snooker for over a year now so I know how to keep myself calm,” said Advani.

 

“I have experience of playing in big matches having competed in several World Billiards finals. But this will be a different and unique occasion.”

 

Pune’s 28-year-old Advani will be up against Scotland’s Marcus Campbell in his opening match and added: “I have never played Marcus before but I know what a seasoned professional he is. We are both tactical players so I’m sure it will be a really good battle.

 

“I have been happy about my game this season and I have been winning matches so I am going to Delhi with confidence.” 

 

The £300,000 tournament will see 64 professional players bidding for the title, including the likes of John Higgins, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui.

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