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GREAT FEAT: Pankaj Advani, the newly-crowned World professional billiards champion, along with his brother Shree and mother Kajal, showing his trophy during a felicitation function at the Karnataka State Billiards Association in Bangalore.
BANGALORE: “I am now at peace with myself,” declared Pankaj Advani, the new World professional billiards champion, summing up his title triumph at Leeds.
“Though I have won many, this one (World professional title) was missing in my kitty and there were critics who had always pointed out to that fact, saying I have not won the big one yet, and I hope I have answered them now. I am not much of a talker, but my deeds do the talking,” said Advani, clearly enjoying his moment under the sun.
The 24-year-old Indian, who returned home with the coveted trophy in the early hours of Tuesday, interacted with media after a few hours of rest at home.
“I feel like Roger Federer after he had won the French Open. I can understand what kind of feeling ran through his mind when you achieve something that always seemed to elude you. The winning feeling is yet to sink in, but it has been a great week for me,” said the champion, who tasted the ultimate triumph in his third attempt at the World professional championship.Sitwala, the toughest
Advani, tracing his run up to the final, rated the matches that he had played against Geet Sethi and Dhruv Sitwala as real tough ones.
“The semifinal against Sitwala was the toughest. After losing to him in the league, I had to beat him with time virtually running out. But that kind of challenge always keeps me going and I had that unfinished break of 142 to beat him.”
The cliff-hanger win in the semifinals spurred Advani to play his best in the final.
“Playing a legend like Mike Russell is always a big challenge. I went in, hoping to play my game and only think about it rather than worrying how it would go,” said Advani.
It went like a dream as he piled breaks for a 600-plus lead in the first hour. Advani said: “it would have been tough if Russell was allowed to settle down and warmed up early. I went for my shots and piled up good breaks and seized the initiative.”
Advani added that the huge lead made him breathe easy. “I knew I had to stay on course and make sure the title is mine and I am happy I did just that.”
Now that he is the World professional billiards champion, Advani seemed to be very content with it.
“Yes, people are already asking whether winning the World Pro snooker title is my next target. My answer is ‘no’.
“I will say that for the last time. I don’t quite relish the prospect of playing nine months of pro snooker circuit and work my way for the World title. I am quite happy with what I have achieved now. I am not ruling out snooker altogether. Yes, I am playing the Asian snooker, if I win it will be gratifying as well,” added the champion.Felicitated by KSBA
Advani was felicitated by the Karnataka State Billiards Association which also presented him with a cheque for Rs. 50,000.
Thanking the KSBA for its gesture, Advani said “KSBA has been my second home and the fellow players, staff and officials have always encouraged me. They too have immensely contributed to my victory.”
Advani, also thanked his mentor Arvind Savur (who is in Europe now) for his role in shaping his career.
“What I am today is due to Savur’s guidance” and he made a special mention of his mother (Kajal Advani) and brother (Shree Advani) for their unflinching support.
Shree stayed through the early hours to follow Pankaj’s progress on net and the family was quite delighted with it.
“We haven’t yet got down to celebrations. We want Pankaj to get a good rest,” said Shree.
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