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Sitwala dethrones Advani; Sethi through

Geet Sethi


Russell gets past Rupesh Shah


LEEDS: Defending champion Pankaj Advani crashed out of the World professional billiards championship, losing his quarterfinal 723-608 to compatriot Dhruv Sitwala here on Friday.

Mike Russell exhibited exemplary cue ball control to record a break of 589 — the highest of the event — to get past Rupesh Shah 995-496, while Geet Sethi continued his winning spree with a comfortable 969-445 victory over Singapore's Peter Gilchrist.

In the last quarterfinal, David Causier outclassed a struggling Sourav Kothari 1356-499.

For Advani, the poor form which has plagued him ever since he lost both his IBSF World titles in Pune two months ago continued to frustrate him. His performance against the affable Sitwala was particularly listless.

After the first 40 minutes of the 150-minute contest, Sitwala established a 254-17 advantage with the aid of useful breaks of 81 and 118. He then stretched his lead to 676-283 with breaks of 109 and 161.

With 30 minutes remaining in the contest, Advani threatened to cover up the deficit with a fine effort of 69 on the 23rd visit and followed it up with a 184 on the next visit. Given Advani's enviable record of coming back from hopeless situations, Sitwala was clearly edgy despite the sizeable lead.

However, Advani succumbed to the pressure of defending his World title. With this defeat, Advani has lost all his three World billiards titles. He also lost his National billiards crown to Alok Kumar a week after surrendering his IBSF World title. The fairytale ride seems to have come to a grinding halt at least for the time being, but the Bangalore-based cueist is a resilient fighter who will not be on the sidelines for too long.

Russell gave substantial evidence of his mental strength when he uncorked a brilliant 589 to transform a 40-point deficit into a 499-point victory. His opponent, the steady Shah, fought hard and exhibited remarkable consistency to pull ahead of the nine-time World professional billiards champion but in the end he could not stop the prolific Russell.

Sethi, playing in his 19th World professional championship, scored a fluent victory over Gilchrist, the highlight being an early 267 on the fifth visit. Sethi also had breaks of 122 and 97 during his comfortable win.

Kothari was outclassed by Causier in a contest which was dominated by the Englishman right through. Causier registered breaks of 112, 195, 125, 170, 178 and 185 compared to a solitary 115 by Kothari on his last visit.

In the four-hour semifinal, Sitwala was leading Sethi 536-416 at the end of their first session of two hours.

In the other semifinal, Mike Russell, with an unfinished break of 271, led David Causier 551-549 after two hours.

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