Aditya Mehta made history,becoming the first Indian to make the semi-final of a snooker ranking tournament,when he defeated compatriot Pankaj Advani 4-3 in the quarter-final of the Indian Open.
The highlight of the game were the final minutes of the third and sixth frames,where with just the black and the pink on the table,the players wrestled each other for long passages of play. The third frame lasted a whopping 63 minutes with Advani nicking it eventually. The sixth frame went the way of Advani too,but Mehta showed great composure to not let the set-backs affect him. He responded to each of those phases by winning the next frame. Winning the fourth frame brought him level in the match,winning the seventh helped him make history.
Irrespective of the result of the game,the quarter-final was sure to throw up a first an Indian in the semifinal of a snooker ranking tournament.
Both Advani and Mehta had to get the better of tough,seasoned campaigners to get to the last-eight stage. Advani survived two century breaks to get the better of Stuart Bingham,ranked 10 in the world,in the round of 16 clash. Mehta had to beat two-time world champion Mark Williams to keep his end of the bargain up.
“It was only the media that noticed that we could meet in the quarter-finals. For us it was only a question of playing one game at a time,considering how tough it has been so far,” said Mehta,on the last eight clash against Advani. Meeting Advani in a quarterfinal may not have registered as a possiblity before the tournament began,but Mehta nevertheless labelled it “the most important game of our lives.”
Mehta had the more straight forward win,at least as far as the scoreline was concerned,beating Williams 4-2. Except for a tight sixth frame,which lasted 43 minutes and the last stages of which would find an echo in the quarterfinal,Mehta was more or less in control through the contest. Williams’ strategy is typical of that of a pro against the rookie. He set up the board so that Mehta would have to make a risky play to score points. If Mehta failed in pulling off the low-percentage pots,the position would open up in favour of Williams. As it happened,Mehta showed he had the skill to pull-off the shots when he attempted them and the consistency to pull it off over the course of the match. He picked up the second and third frames before Williams got back with the fifth. The close sixth frame went Mehta’s way after 43 minutes.
Advani had given up his quarterfinal as a lost cause at one point in the deciding seventh frame,though he had done incredibly well to be level at that stage. Bingham had registered a 117 break in frame two and a 119 in frame six to take it to the decider and was well on his way (break of 30) to book a quarterfinal spot when he missed a simple pot,handing the advantage to Advani. With a break of 80,Advani pocketed the game.
World No.1 Neil Robertson suffered a shock defeat against China’s Ding Junhui to crash out of the Indian Open World Ranking snooker tournament.
Robertson did not look in his elements and lost 2-4 to World No.4 Junhui in the first quarterfinal of the 300,000 pound event. It was Junhui who set the ball rolling with a break of 72 to pocket the first frame 96-4. He went on to win the second frame with a 52-clearance to take the 2-0 lead.
Robertson regrouped his resources quickly and reigned supreme on the green baize with fluent breaks of 86 and 104 in the next two frames to level the issue at 2-2.
When it looked like Robertson would walk away with the honours,Junhui turned the game on its head and came up with breaks of 85 and 91 in the fifth and sixth frames respectively to cap off an impressive win.
Fridays matches: semis
S/F Stephen Maguire (5) vs Aditya Mehta (71) 13:30 IST; Finals start at 1900 IST
Live on DD Sports