After becoming the first Indian ever to reach the final of a major ranking event,it was a sad end to Aditya Mehta’s fairytale journey at the Indian Open world snooker as he went down tamely to China’s Ding Junhui in the summit clash in New Delhi on Friday.
Mehta,who scalped world champions Peter Ebdon and Mark Williams en route his final dash in the 300,000-pound event,lost 0-5 to World No.4 Junhui in a lop-sided contest which saw the 27-year-old Mumbaikar struggling to find his feet in the best-of-nine-frames encounter,which lasted for two hours.
This is Junhui’s eighth Ranking tournament victories on the Professional circuit after his earlier title triumphs in China Open (2005),UK Championship (2005,2009),Northern Ireland Trophy (2006),Welsh Open (2012),PTC Grand Finals (2013) and Shanghai Open (2013).
Mehta,who had come into the final just an hour after playing a long,intense semi-final against Scotland’s Stephen Maguire this afternoon,suffered from fatigue as the class and safety play which he had shown against his other worthy rivals was missing from his game.
Junhui too had played his semi-final against Scotland’s Robbie Williams on Friday morning but his clash was neither as exhausting as that of Mehta nor it took him three hours to send his opponent packing home. This means,Junhui got at least 5-6 hours to recover for the match.
However,there was no denying Junhui’s shot precision and potting prowess which saw the Chinses prodigy knocking the day light out of World No.1 Neil Robertson and World No.10 John Higgins earlier in this tournament.
The youngest player ever to win three ranking titles,and the only one other than John Higgins to do so before his 20th birthday,Junhui looked at ease against World No.72 Mehta and not for once found the going tough which reflected in the score line 76(52)-36,87(81)-0,107-0,93-1,116(100)-1.
It was Mehta,who opened the scoring with a break of 30 in the first frame but,once he missed the red,Junhui came up with a fluent 52-clearance to go 1-0 up.
Junhui,winner of seven ranking events including PTC Grand Finals and Shanghai Open titles this year,never looked back from there on and reduced Mehta to a mere spectator,pocketing the next four frames with clearances of 87,107,93 and a perfect 100.
While Junhui became richer by 50,000 pound as the winner of the Indian Open,Mehta took home a handsome amount of 25,000 pound as runners-up.
India’s other leading professional cueist Pankaj Advani,who had lost in the quarter-final against Mehta on Thursday night,also took home 9,000 pound.
Earlier,in the semi-final,Mehta had stuttered after a dominating start against Scotland’s Stephen Maguire but kept his nerve to eke out a narrow 4-3 over the Scottish cueist.
The best-of-seven-frames contest between Mehta and world No 5 Maguire appeared to be a one-sided affair after the ace Indian cueist had won the first three frames but just when it looked like the match is heading for an early finish,Maguire launched a stunning fight-back to pocket the next three frames and level the issue at 3-3.
The highlight of the game was the final minutes of the decider seventh frame where with just three balls left on the table,the players wrestled each other for long passages of play.
With score line in favour of Mehta at 61-35,the Indian committed a foul which gave his opponent a five-point cushion. With 18 points remaining on the table and Mehta still comfortably positioned,Maguire resorted to tactical game which left the World No.72 frustrated.
Maguire decided to just touch the balls and not pot in order to induce Mehta into committing another foul. Mehta,however,did not fall for the ploy and,after a while,potted blue and pink to seal the issue,a break of 30 on his second visit making the difference.
Junhui had defeated Scotland’s Robbie Williams in the other semi-final with a dominating 4-1 win.
Junhui fired in breaks of 68,59,142 and 64 en route his comfortable win. The highlight of the game was his astonishing break of 142 in the third frame which proved Junhui’s dominance on the Pro circuit.