Off-colour Advani struggles through

Off-colour Advani struggles through

Mehta beaten in opener; champ White bows out

Off-colour Advani struggles through

An off-colour Pankaj Advani found the will to survive while a rusty Aditya Mehta bit the dust in agonising fashion as the Indian Open got off to a sedate start here on Tuesday.

Playing the wildcard round in the morning session at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre, a scratchy Advani huffed and puffed before finding his bearings in the nick of time to post a hard-fought 4-2 (49-69, 45-72, 46-48, 76-53, 89 (66)-1, 89-1) win over China’s Fang Xiongman.

Mehta, making a premature return to the pro circuit after being beset by a neck injury last season, looked completely out of sorts as he crashed to a 4-0 (70-41, 64-5, 58-45, 88 (63)-0) defeat at the hands of England’s Jimmy Robertson in the qualifier round later in the evening.

Meanwhile, defending champion Michael White's reign was cut short in brutal fashion, the Welshman going down 1-4 to Englishman Anthony Hamilton in the qualifier round itself. 

“This is what happens when you throw yourself into the deep end when you are not ready yet,” said a downcast Mehta, India’s lone player on the pro circuit.

“I’ve been practising but simply had no match practice. I made too many mistakes. I just couldn’t settle into any sort of rhythm. I just played badly and lost.”

Three other Indians playing the wildcard round in the morning session were no match to their respective opponents. Manan Chandra and Lucky Vatnani managed to win just one frame in their 1-4 losses to Andrew Higginson and David Grace respectively while Kamal Chawla performed slightly better, going down 2-4 to Chinese sensation Zhao Xintong.

Mehta simply didn’t turn up for his match against Robertson. Having caught the imagination of the country after finishing runner-up in the inaugural edition of the India Open in 2013, much was expected out of the Mumbaikar but his game simply didn’t  click. Struggling to find a proper cue position and missing regulation pots, he made one too many errors to eventually gift wrap the match to Robertson, who too struggled to get going at the start.

Mehta had his chance to stage a comeback in the third frame. Leading 45-36 and on course to clearing the table, Mehta missed a simple brown ball pot to the top left pocket. While luckily for him he didn’t manage to sell it to Robertson, he was snookered a couple of shots later after which the Englishman potted it to take a commanding lead. Staring at the mighty challenge, Mehta fizzled out in the fourth frame as Robertson sealed victory with a 63-point break.

Results: Round 1: Akani Songsermsawad (Tha) bt Jamie Burnett (Sco) 4-1 (61-59, 83-1, 27-67, 62-52, 54-50); Joe Swail (NIR) bt Jimmy White (Eng) 4-2 (81-41, 23-63, 0-96 (96), 73-38, 66-31, 59-49); Mathew Stevens (Wal) bt Mark Joyce (Eng) 4-2 (62-40, 58-60, 94-0, 2-73, 106 (106)-0, 92 (92)-0); Miachel Georgiou (Eng) bt Dechawat Poomjaeng (Thai) 4-2 (78-29, 5-76, 9-79, 60-43, 88-0, 64-63); Oliver Lines (Eng) bt Graeme Dott (Sco) 4-1 (72-54, 49-74, 74-35, 73-0, 67-15); Robbie Williams (Eng) w/o Luca Brecel (Bel); Rory McLeod (Eng) bt Mark King (Eng) 4-1 (67 (53)-25, 0-142 (142), 67-38, 140 (116)-0, 71 (50)-15); Stuart Bingham (Eng) bt Steven Hallworth (Eng) 4-3 (89-56, 92 (61)-38, 0-75, 5-61, 101 (71)-4, 0-71, 93-15).

Wildcard round: Zhao Xintong (Chn) bt Kamal Chawla (Ind) 4-2 (60-47, 26-55, 80-70, 42-71, 76-40, 73-66); Andrew Higginson (Eng) bt Manan Chandra (Ind) 4-1 (84-13, 57-66, 80-6, 88-34, 70-24); Dilip Kumar (Ind) w/o Hamza Akbar (Pak); Ishpreet Chadha (Ind) w/o Fraser Patrick (Sco); Pankaj Advani (Ind) bt Fang Xiongman (Chn) 4-2 (49-69, 45-72, 46-48, 76-53, 89 (66) -1, 89-1); David Grace (Eng) vs Lucky Vatnani (Ind) 4-1 (58-63, 59-9, 53-41, 128 (128) -0, 79-0).
Qualifier round: Jimmy Robertson (Eng) bt Aditya Mehta (Ind) 4-0 (70-41, 64-5, 58-45, 88 (63)-0).

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