Mehta delivers shock win

Mehta delivers shock win

Manan crashes out tamely as most of home wild cards go down without fight

Mehta delivers shock win

Rising sensation Aditya Mehta got the Indian Open World Ranking Snooker Tournament off to a rollicking start, slaying former world champion Peter Ebdon, even as much of the home wild cards crashed out in a whimper here on Monday.

Handed a punishing lung-opener against the 2002 world champion and seasoned campaigner Ebdon, pro circuit cueist Mehta nearly appeared to throw away a splendid start before sealing a nerve-jangling 4-3 (66 (50)-48, 69-51, 8-91 (40), 122 (122)-1, 32-81, 73-85, 131 (127)-0) first-round victory and cause the biggest shock of the event on its opening day.

However, things didn’t pan out too well for a handful of Indian wild cards who squandered a fantastic chance to grab a few eyeballs. Barring Shivam Arora, who recently won the bronze medal at the IBSF World 6-red snooker championship, none of the others did anything of notice in their wild card rounds.

Arora almost threatened to pull off a stunner but eventually surrendered to Anthony McGill 3-4 while former pro circuit player Manan Chandra once again flattered to deceive, making plenty of errors in a match that was there for his taking, losing 1-4 to Robbie Williams.

Kamal Chawla went down 1-4 to Rod Lawler while Sandeep Gulati was whipped 4-0 by Jeff Cundy with only Dharminder Lilly being the lone survivor amongst greenhorns, getting a walkover from absentee Liam Highfield.

While nothing major was expected from the wild cards, a lot of hopes were resting on the young shoulders of Aditya, whose choice to migrate to the gruelling pro tour at the start of the decade looks like paying rich dividends.

Probably India’s best snooker player on current form, World No 72 Aditya showed little nerves at the start of his contest despite facing a cueist ranked 42 places above him and possessing enormous experience.

He uncorked an exact 50-point break in the opening frame and quickly raced away to 2-0 lead with a 26-point clearance as excitement picked up the venue.

A master of battles, Ebdon hit back quickly winning the third with a 40-point break but Mehta put himself within one frame of a morale-boosting victory with a 122-point sizzler in the fourth.

Just then, Ebdon showed his genius as the match turned into a tactical battle with plenty of safety play and snookers. Mehta was up for it and almost sealed it in the sixth but snookered himself behind a pink while leading 58-20.

Ebdon capitalised on the error and pushed the match into a decider in which he was left with the role of a spectator as Mehta finished off the proceedings with a 127-point clearance.

Neil Robertson, the 2010 world champion, warmed up nicely, dusting off Thai Noppon Saengkham 4-1 quite effortlessly.

Results: Wildcard round: Rod Lawler bt Kamal Chawla 4-1 (58-51, 79-36, 54-71, 70-40, 70-31); Jeff Cundy bt Sandeep Gulati 4-0 (78 (52)-14, 62-57, 85 (57)-0, 89 (88)-1); Anthony McGill bt Shivam Arora 4-3 (58-57, 78-38, 45-85, 53 (53)-67 (54), 77-14, 24-75, 81-6); Robbie Williams bt Manan Chandra 4-1 (69-56, 77-31, 70 (70)-1, 32-107, 65-40); Paul Davidson bt Faisal Khan 4-1 (55-34, 38-72, 81 (76)-49, 61-16, 58-5); Dharminder Lilly w/o Liam Highfield.

First round: Neil Robertson bt Noppon Saengkham 4-1 (107 (103)-0, 104 (103)-14, 54-55, 122 (55, 67)-1, 124 (103)-1); Rod Lawler w/o Allister Carter; Mark Joyce bt Sean O’Sullivan 4-0 (71-44, 109 (63)-21, 92 (55)-21, 123 (114)-0); Dechawat Poomjaeng bt Ryan Day 4-2 (108-6, 78-15, 10-73, 0-79 (58), 90 (52)-0, 75 (58)-6);

Ray Walden bt Gerard Greene 4-0 (69-10, 58-31, 73-45, 83-16); Michael Holt bt Jamie Cope 4-1 (68-51, 34-73, 71-51, 82-2, 56-55); Zhang Anda bt Alan McManus 4-1 (61-34, 69-0, 0-65, 70-19, 59-54); Aditya Mehta bt Peter Ebdon 4-3 (66 (50)-48, 69-51, 8-91 (40), 122 (122)-1, 32-81, 73-85, 131 (127)-0).

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