India No. 1 and pro Aditya Mehta and double Asian champion Yasin Merchant fashioned impressive wins to set up a mouth-watering semi-final clash in the Bombay Gymkhana Strokes Snooker Invitational Open Tournament,on Monday.
Merchant kicked off a rewarding day for the favourites with a clinical 4-2 win over India No. 7 Manan Chandra of Bharat Petroleum,while Mehta halted India junior No. 1 Laxman Rawat of Delhi with a 4-1 win,in the best-of-seven frames quarter-finals.
Merchant,who recently announced his retirement from international snooker,showed no signs of his passion diminishing as he seized upon every opportunity that came his way and rolled on.
Chandra got off to a dream start with a break of 61 that helped him snatch the opening frame. But Merchant,who began on an ominous note with a foul,struck back to surge to a 3-1 lead that included a break of 51 in the fourth frame that still reflected his hunger for success.
Chandra fought back and narrowed the lead to 2-3 with another break of 50 but his challenge ended there as Merchant took away the sixth frame in a trice.
We were both in good nick. I played well and had no reason to be disappointed. Its just that Yasin punished me for my mistakes and was the deserving winner, reasoned Chandra.
Aditya Mehta,who just returned from the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield after reaching the second round there,cruised through his tie against the talented Rawat.
Though he trailed 1-3 against his more accomplished opponent,Rawat showed he was no pushover when he made a gallant bid to keep his hopes alive in the crucial fifth frame.
Rawat was on course for a clearance as he potted brilliantly under pressure,firing a brown canon and returning ideally behind a red. But he played the green in a hurry and to his dismay missed a simple shot that struck the jaw. Mehta seized the opportunity for a clearance to snatch the frame and match on the black at 54-53.
I really dont know what happened, said Rawat. I feel I should have taken my time before going for the green. It was a simple shot after all.
Quarter-finals: Yasin Merchant (Khar Gym) bt Manan Chandra (BPCL) 5-80(61),69-7,62-21,68(51)-21,17-57,58-21; Aditya Mehta (Indian Oil) bt Laxman Rawat (Delhi) 63-32,28-61,72-50,79-44,54-53.