Having recently pocketed his 15th world title, India’s most celebrated cueist Pankaj Advani said he derives a lot of satisfaction from the fact that he has successfully managed the tough balancing act of playing snooker and billiards at such a high level.
Advani clinched the International Billiards and Snooker Federation (IBSF) World Snooker Championship after battling past 18-year-old Chinese cueist Zhua Xintong in Egypt on Saturday to pocket his fourth snooker title. Bengaluru’s ‘Golden Boy’ now has 11 World Billiards titles to his name and he admits that juggling between formats is not an easy task.
“I am playing competitive cuesport throughout the year. Extremely happy to be playing Billiards and Snooker and achieving in both. People who follow the game will know how tough it is to juggle with formats and manage billiards and snooker at a very high level,” Advani told PTI in an interview.
For a cuesport veteran who won the IBSF World Snooker Championship in 2003 on his competitive debut, Advani has come a long way to be recognised as a ‘great’ of the game. He feels on top of the world. “It feels absolutely great to be given those names and titles and the stuff that is said about you. It just wonderful to take cuesports to great heights and represent the country and win medals,” he said.
“I believe that whenever you go out there you have to prepare for the best possible outcome, so yes, it just feels on top of the world right now that I can actually win gold medals for the country in cuesports,” he added.
The champion was also magnanimous in his praise for the teenage sensation who nearly cornered him before he used his experience to outwit Xintong 8-6 in the final in Hurghada.
“For those who follow snooker, understand the game and realise how the game has changed over the years -- it has become more aggressive and attacking -- this guy is just phenomenal when comes to the attacking department. His offense is so strong that defense was tested. I was cruising at a point and he came back with a big break and I had no answers,” said Advani.
“And it was just at the end that it was all about handling pressure and holding my nerves. And the last century break I made was the perfect finish and an icing on the cake. I am extremely thrilled because I have played high quality snooker and stay on top of this Chinese kid because I think he is definitely going to be a future world champion and very soon,” he added.