Indian Billiards fraternity showered praise on country’s ace cueist Pankaj Advani for clinching his maiden World Professionals Championship title by defeating holder and nine-time winner Mike Russell of Qatar.
The 24-year-old Indian beat Russel 2030-1253 to win the title at Northern Snooker Centre in England as he became only the second Indian to achieve the distinct feat after five-time world champion, legendary Geet Sethi.
“Look, he has achieved today what I predicted earlier.
This is his biggest achievement. He had beaten top three players, including compatriot Geet Sethi and Mike Russell in his last three games. He was due for it,” Ashok Shandilya, 1998 Bangkok Asian Games gold medallist said.
“Lot of players are there in his age group, but no one is as promising as Advani. I can say that no one is there in the future who could beat him. For next few years, it’s difficult to have another player like Advani,” Shandilya added.
Former two-time Asian champion Yasin Merchant also doffed his hat at the Bangalore cueist and hoped the recent victory will inspire Advani to perform better.
“I think he is the most deserving candidate to have won this title. I am proud of him as he is a very dedicated and promising player. He has beaten a legendary player like Mike Russell which is not a small thing at all,” Merchant said.
“He is only 24. With 10-15 years of play still left in him, he is surely going to lift many more titles. It will be difficult to trail him as no youngster is as promising as Advani,” Merchant said.
Former World Billiards champion and currently India coach Subhash Agarwal, who is in England with the team, was also elated.
“He is the best. He is going to conquer the world of billiards. Many players are playing amateur, but Pankaj is most promising of the lot,” Agarwal said over phone.
Advani, who won World Amateur Snooker Championship in China six years ago and World Amateur Billiards Championship in Malta four years back, is the second after Malta’s Paul Mifsud to bag both the amateur billiards and world snooker titles.
“It’s a fantastic achievement, to beat Mike Rusell. It’s phenomenal. I think, he is ready for the world professional snooker. With this changed attitude and mindset he can go very far if he stays focused,” said another former ace Michael Ferreira.