Today the young, exciting star of his sport takes centre stage in the quarter-finals of the BetVictor Welsh Open.

That player is Pankaj Advani, the world billiards champion, who faces Judd Trump.

The 22-ball game has always played second fiddle for Advani but he was world amateur snooker champion a decade ago and has beaten three world champions in succession – Peter Ebdon, Shaun Murphy and Graeme Dott – to become the first Indian to appear in a world ranking tournament quarter-final.

Advani may in the future have to decide where his loyalties lie. Professional billiards currently has just one tournament, the World Championship, but there’s a good chance there will be more of a circuit next season and in the years ahead.

As for today he can look forward to a meeting with Trump, who played well yesterday without being put under much pressure by a below par Andrew Higginson.

Stuart Bingham made a great clearance to win the deciding frame against Neil Robertson. He’ll play Ken Doherty, who won the first of his two Welsh Open titles 20 years ago.

In that final, Doherty defeated Alan McManus, who rallied from 3-0 down to beat Joe Perry 4-3 last night.

McManus has always been dedicated to snooker. I commentated with him for Eurosport on last season’s World Championship. His stint was up at the end of the two-table phase and he went back to Scotland the next day and into the club to practice.

It’s not much fun for a former world no.6 to be stuck in qualifiers but it helps if you like the game and also show it respect, which McManus always has done.

He now faces Stephen Maguire, a fellow Scot who played really well from 2—1 down to beat the last remaining Welshman, Matthew Stevens, 4-2.

Ding Junhui, the defending champion, maintained his progress with a 4-2 victory over Mark Allen. There was a big moment in the third frame when, trailing 2-0 but poised to clear up, Allen suffered a thunderous kick. He recovered well to just a frame behind but Ding has looked cool all week and duly finished off nicely.

His quarter-final opponent is Robert Milkins, much improved in recent times having been 55th in the world rankings four years ago.

He is now in the 20s and playing with evident confidence, as he displayed in dispatching Sam Baird 4-2 last night with a couple of really good clearances.


Anonymous said...

That headline came also to my mind when you write the first headline about advani a few days ago :-) Top draw!

Anonymous said...

What a "curved ball", an outsider storming through the tournamemt.

Should he win on Sunday Mr Hearn will get his best headlines for years.

Ray said...

I wish Pankaj Advani every success in snooker as he comes across as an articulate young man with a wealth of talent - a genuine bloke.

Tremendous performance also by Alan McManus to come back from 3-0 down against Joe Perry, who must have been full of confidence after beating Selby in such a comprehensive way. McManus played some really good shots to roll back the years. He proved the old adage, if proof was needed, that age is just an instance of mind over matter - if you don't mind it doesn't matter.

Anonymous said...

Ray, no disrespect but Dave's blog isn't the place for your mid-life crisis.

Pankaj's run reminds me of Higginson's from a few year's back, which has to be one of the most unbelievable performances of recent times, and he surely has a future in snooker if he wants it. Maybe they should hold a multi-discipline event in India, like the Lindrum Masters from a few years back: they could have a mix of snooker, billiards and pool and bring in some of the other top Indian billiard players: if billiards is the leading cuesport then it can probably be used to build the snooker fanbase. Multi-discipline events are always slightly gimmicky because the best players never seem to win them, but they are always intriguing to watch just to see how a player copes outside of his comfort zone.

Ray said...

Re. 4.37pm

I'll be the judge of that!!!


Hi David. Another great day's play, in my view.

Bingham did well, in coming from 2-0 down, to beat, Doherty, 5-3.

Trump played well, to beat Advani, 5-2, and end his great run.

Ding played great, to beat Milkins, 5-1.

Maguire did well, to beat McManus, 5-3.

I can not wait for the Semi-Finals, and more action, tomorrow.