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Pankaj Advani wins his seventh World billiards crown

Source: PTI
Last updated on: October 29, 2012 10:39 IST
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Ace Indian cueist Pankaj Advani proved his class again as he won his seventh World Billiards Championship, comprehensively beating defending champion and seasoned Englishman Mike Russell in the final, in Leeds.

The celebrated cueist stamped his authority with a 1895-1216 win over the local favourite.

Fresh from his resounding 881-281 victory over compatriot Dhruv Sitwala in the semi-finals, Advani raced ahead with a break of 147 and a double century break, of 298, within the first hour of the five-hour encounter.

Pankaj AdvaniThe experienced Russell then strung up a break of 397 to equalise, but the Indian ace fought back strongly with breaks of 131 and 92 to take the lead after the first half of the match.

Advani started the second half with another century break, 128, and followed it up with breaks of 94 and 108 to cement his lead.

With a final century break of 119, he conquered the 11-time champion to clinch his fourth World title in the timed format.

It was a case of history repeating itself for Advani, who had beaten Russell 2030-1253 in the final of the World Professional Billiards Championship in 2009 at the same venue.

Dedicating the title to his mother, an elated Advani said, "I am so pleased to have won my seventh World title. I took a gamble while choosing to play the World Championships here in Leeds and not the International Championship on the professional snooker tour, and I am glad that paid off in my favour.

"I took a tough decision earlier this year to play both billiards and snooker at the highest level, and I am glad that I have been able to maintain top form in both the forms."

"This victory, like every other, shall be treasured; yet it has its own special meaning given the unique challenges I have faced this year. This win is a testament that if you follow your heart, nothing's impossible," he added.

Advani was in stupendous form through the tournament, remaining unbeaten in the earlier rounds to proceed to the knock-outs as the top seed in both Points and Timed formats.

He bounced back from his loss to Peter Gilchrist in the quarter-finals in the points' format and showed great composure in his quarter-final encounter against Rupesh Shah in the timed format, which he won by a 940-point margin in 180 minutes, to storm into the semi-finals, where he beat fellow-Indian Dhruv Sitwala.

This is his eighth World title, the seventh in billiards.

His first World title in billiards came in 2005, when he created history by becoming the first cueist ever to win the Timed and Points format of the IBSF World Billiards Championship in the same year, a feat he repeated in 2008.

He also won the IBSF World Billiards Championship (Timed Format) in 2007 and won World Professional Billiards title 2009.

The only active player to compete at the highest level in both billiards and snooker, Advani made the tough choice of picking the World Billiards Championship over the International Snooker Championships due to a clash in the dates of the two tournaments.

Photograph: Rediff Archives

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