LEEDS: Ace Indian cueist Pankaj Advani proved his class once again as he notched up his seventh World Billiards Championship title after comprehensively beating defending champion and seasoned Englishman Mike Russell in the final here.
Fresh from his resounding 881-281 victory over compatriot Dhruv Sitwala in the semifinals, Pankaj raced into a lead with a century break of 147 and a double century break of 298 within the first hour of the five-hour long encounter.
The experienced Mike then scored a break of 397 to equalize but Pankaj fought back strongly with breaks of 131 and 92 to take the lead in the first half of the match.
Pankaj started the second half with another century break of 128 and followed this with breaks of 94 and 108 to cement his lead over Mike.
With a final century break of 119, Pankaj beat the 11-time champion to clinch his fourth world title in the timed format. It was a case of history repeating itself for Pankaj who had beaten Mike 2030-1253 in the finals of the World Professional Billiards Championship in 2009 at the same venue.
Dedicating the title to his mother, an elated Pankaj said, “I am so pleased to have won my seventh world title. I took a gamble while choosing to play the World Championships here in Leeds and not the International Championship on the Professional Snooker tour and I am glad that paid off in my favor.
“I took a tough decision earlier this year to play both Billiards and Snooker at the highest level, and I am glad that I have been able to maintain top form in both the forms.” “This victory like every other shall be treasured yet has its own special meaning given the unique challenges I have faced this year. This win is a testament that if you follow your heart, nothing’s impossible,” Pankaj added.
Pankaj has been in stupendous form through the tournament, remaining unbeaten in the earlier rounds to proceed to the knock outs as the top seed in both Points and Timed formats.
Pankaj bounced back from his loss to Peter Gilchrist in the quarterfinals of the points format and showed great composure in his quarterfinal encounter against Rupesh Shah in the timed format which he won with a 940-point margin in 180 minutes to storm into the semi-finals where he beat fellow Indian Dhruv Sitwala.
This is the eighth overall world title for Pankaj and his seventh in billiards.
His first world title in billiards came in 2005 when he created history by becoming the first cueist ever to win the Timed and Points format of the IBSF World Billiards Championship in the same year, a feat he repeated in 2008.
He also won the IBSF World Billiards Championship (Timed Format) in 2007 and won World Professional Billiards title 2009.
The only active player to compete at the highest level in both Billiards and Snooker, Pankaj made the tough choice of picking the World Billiards Championship over International Snooker Championships due to a clash in the dates of the two tournaments.