Bengaluru, Nov 17 (IANS) India’s Pankaj Advani is the hot favourite to win the men’s title in the Seaways-IBSF World Snooker Championship that commences here Wednesday, according to Australian champion Matthew Bolton.
Speaking to the press on the sidelines of the logo launch here Monday, the 35-year-old Bolton, better known for his billiards prowess, opined that given the home advantage and the form 2003 champion Advani is in, the Indian is the front-runner for the title.
The logo was unveiled by Billiards and Snooker Federation of India (BSFI) president Capt. P.V.K. Mohan after an introduction by BSFI secretary S. Balasubramaniam with Barrie Jones representing the IBSF and Joseph Lo of Asian Confederation of Billiard Sports in attendance.
The championship that India is hosting for the third time includes three categories, Men, Women and Masters and has attracted over 200 entries. The tournament will be inaugurated Tuesday evening with an opening ceremony marked by cultural programmes while the matches will start Wednesday.
“India has an incredible legacy in cue sport and Pankaj is carrying it forward. He is one of the best players I have seen in terms of temperament, self-belief and talent. Earlier this month, he won the World billiards title (in Leeds) and obviously he will be very confident going into the championship,” said Bolton.
On his part, Advani, 29, who will be playing in his hometown, said he was happy to be nominated as one of the favourites but cautioned that the field was extremely strong with several other players too capable of winning the title.
“There are players from China, Thailand, UK and Europe who are all capable of doing well in the tournament. So, although I am happy that I am considered as the favourite, there are many others who can win the championship,” said Advani, who earlier this month won a double (points and timed format) in the World Billiards Championship.
“I have not thought of winning but prepared well and done my homework. This is a new challenge for me to play World Snooker just three weeks after World Billiards and I look forward to it,” said Advani, winner of 12 World titles.
“Having won the World Billiards titles, the momentum is with me and also the confidence. When I go out to the table, I believe I am the winner. That has been my approach.”
Meanwhile, India’s best hope in the women’s section, Vidya Pillai, the reigning national champion, felt that the championship will be very competitive given the presence of many talented players.
“It is a very tough field and there are many talented players in the draw. As for me, I have trained hard for this championship and will give it my best shot. Break building is my strength but I have been working hard on my safety play, and hopefully, I hope to do well,” said Pillai, who has had a trying time balancing sport and family life after marriage and motherhood.
“Yes, it is tough because you do not get as much time to practice as you would like to but I have learnt to utilise my practice time better and it has paid off,” said Pillai, who shifted from Chennai to Bengaluru after marriage.