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Pankaj Advani wins world title
- The 24-year-old becomes 2nd Indian to win the pro championship

Leeds: Ace cueist Pankaj Advani became only the second Indian to win the World Professional Billiards Championship title when he defeated defending champion Mike Russell 2030-1253 in the final Monday.

Geet Sethi is the only other Indian to have won the title, in 1996.

This was Advani’s third attempt at the Pro championship, having lost the quarter finals in 2007 and 2008.

In Monday’s final, Advani made a break of 226 and six more centuries en route to the victory over nine-time winner Russell at the Northern Snooker Centre.

An elated Advani said he could now play in peace as he has silenced his critics with this win.

“It’s a great feeling… I can now play in peace because nobody can tell me that I haven’t won a professional billiards title,” the soft-spoken 24-year-old, who is already a world champion on the amateur circuit, said.

“It’s always tough winning any world championship simply because you have to beat the best in the business.”

The Khel Ratna awardee and 2006 Doha Asian Games gold medallist said winning the pro title was a special.

“Records are meant to be broken, but when you think you are only the second Indian to achieve it, it makes the feeling all the more special,” he said.

Advani was part of the seven-member Indian contingent, led by second seed Geet Sethi.

The last time India won a professional billiards world title was in 2006, when Sethi defeated Lee Lagan of England 2093-1057 in the final at Wales.

In 2008, Sethi lost in the final to Mike Russell while the other Indians bowed out in the early stages.

With this triumph Advani, the five-time IBSF World Billiards champion, has now won all the major world titles.

He also is the only player to have achieved a ‘grand double’ of winning both the points and timed formats at the World Amateur Billiards Championships in 2005 and 2008 respectively.

Earlier this year, Advani retained the Asian Billiards Championship crown, beating Peter Gilchrist of Singapore, in Pune.

Meanwhile, Advani’s Indian peers showered praises on the youngster following Monday’s victory.

“This is his biggest achievement. He had beaten the top three players, including Sethi and Russell, in his last three games. He was due for it,” Ashok Shandilya, the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games gold medallist said.

Former two-time Asian champion Yasin Merchant also complimented Advani: “I think he is the most deserving candidate to have won this title. He is a very dedicated and promising player.”

Fact-file

Born: July 24, 1985 (Pune)
Turned Pro: 2003
Highest break: 136 (Snooker)

Major Titles

2009: World Professional Billiards Championship
2008: IBSF World Billiards Championship (both formats — timed and points)
2006: Asian Games Gold Medallist — English Billiards singles
2005: IBSF World Billiards Championship (both formats), Asian Billiards Championship, India Billiards Championship, India Junior Snooker Championship, India Junior Billiards Championship, WSA Challenge Tour
2004: WSA Challenge Tour
2003: IBSF World Snooker Championship, Indian Junior Billiards Championship, Indian Junior Snooker Championship
2001: Indian Junior Billiards Championship
2000: Indian Junior Billiards Championship Awards and honours
2009: Padma Shri
2005-06: Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna
2007: Rajyotsava Award (Karnataka’s highest civilian award)
2005: Vision of India’s “International Indian” Award
2005: Senior Sportsperson of the Year
2004: The Arjuna Award
2003: The Indo-American Young Achiever’s Award

Source: Wikipedia

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