| Pankaj Advani
New Delhi: Pankaj Advani on Wednesday created history by becoming the first Indian cueist to reach the pre-quarter finals of the Welsh Open Pro Snooker Series, defeating former world champion Shaun Murphy of England 4-3 at Newport, Wales.
Eight-time world champion Advani, the only active player to compete at the highest level in both billiards and snooker concurrently in the same season, was excited about his win.
“I’m ecstatic about this win. Defeating a player of Murphy’s calibre requires one to play out of his skin. I guess that’s what happened!” Advani said.
“The atmosphere was electrifying. Competing at such a high level and with family and friends all over the world watching live makes you realise you’re part of something massive. A grand occasion requires a grand approach,” added Advani.
For the record, this is Advani's first professional season. The 27-year-old Bangalorean started with a bang in frame 1, putting his opponent under pressure immediately with some exceptional potting to win it 75-15.
Murphy bounced back in the second with a break of 71 to pocket the frame 100-10. Advani replied with the highest break of the match, a 121 clearance, to take back his lead in the third frame and then widened the gap with a 51 break to secure the fourth.
But Murphy was determined to stage a fight back. He took the attack to Advani by winning the next two frames to enforce the decider.
And what looked like a one-sided affair in favour of Advani turned out to be a cracker!
The Englishman gathered enough momentum to tip the odds in his favour entering into the seventh frame but it was Advani who used his billiards prowess to make Murphy commit mistakes and concede points through fouls.
Advani then hit the final nail in the coffin with a well-crafted 36 break before Murphy surrendered the match at 64-15.
Advani had defeated former world champion Peter Ebdon 4-3 to enter the draw of 32 in the Welsh Open.