Advani brushes Schopf aside

Snooker World Championship

Advani brushes Schopf aside

Pankaj Advani’s game moved into cruise mode while Asian champion Thor Chuanleong’s campaign suffered an unexpected snag at the IBSF World Snooker Championship here on Friday.

After two scratchy group outings, Advani finally looked his part as the 12-time world champion swatted aside a hapless Paul Schopf of Austria 4-0 (103 (71)-4, 119-7, 56-26, 136 (52, 84)-0) in 45 hassle free minutes at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.

Malaysian Thor, one of the favourites for the title, was however caught unawares by former African champion Mohamed Khairy, the Egyptian registering a commanding 4-1 (85-24, 18-73, 72-7, 55-47, 64-24) victory.

The 2011 bronze medal winner Kamal Chawla doled out another impressive performance, downing Belgium’s Jurgen Van Roy 4-1 (68-27, 74-0, 67-56, 68-75, 60-17) while last year’s runner-up Zhao Xintong overcame a horrible start to tame the dangerous Keng Kwang Chan 4-2 (16-67, 8-77, 65-8, 75-19, 89 (89) -0, 57-31).

Advani, not at his best over the last two days, seemed to be in the mood from the time he walked in to take cue against Schopf. Having taken enough time to assess the conditions in his previous two matches, the 29-year-old stepped on the accelerator in ruthless fashion, reducing the Austrian to a mere spectator.

Cutting out all errors, the Bengalurean took the chances that were presented to him, notching up three half-century breaks in a sizzling display. His potting was brilliant while positional play was top-notch, never once allowing Schopf to get a grip of things.

He started the match on a rampage, unleashing a break of 71 points to take the opening frame before jumping into a 2-0 lead with two mini breaks. The third frame was a bit of a scrappy affair but the Indian ace seemed in a hurry to go home as he opened the fourth frame with a 52-point effort.

Just when it looked like he would claim his first century break, the Indian, in an attempt to break the bunch, missed a long red pot to the top left pocket. Schopf, however, didn’t want to delay the inevitable, missing a regulation red and allowing Advani a chance to clear the table.

Not the one to say no to freebies, Advani accepted it with both hands, unleashing a clearance of 84 points to register an emphatic win and warm himself up nicely for the remaining challenges.

Chawla looked good for the third straight day in succession. While he didn’t produce any massive breaks against Jurgen, he was always in control of the contest, getting the job done in the end without much fuss.

That was, however, not the case with Xintong who appeared in serious danger of slumping to his second straight defeat. Completely undone by the brilliance of Keng, who potted everything within his sight to jump into a 2-0 lead, the Chinese teenager recalled his predator instincts in the nick of time to win the next four on the trot and totally floor the Singaporean.

Playing almost nonchalant snooker despite being under the gun, Xintong showed why his touted as one of the next big things in Chinese snooker. With a smile plastered across his face no matter how difficult or easy the positions were, the 17-year-old pulled off some remarkable potting to sound a huge warning to Advani who was watching him from the stands.

Thor didn’t have the best of days as Khairy, a former pro circuit player trying to regain his card, produced his ‘A’ game to come away with a surprise win.

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