World Snooker championship: Advani carves out quarterfinal spot

By Anand Philar, IANS,

Bangalore : The jungle law of survival of the fittest prevailed in the IBSF World snooker championship here on Thursday and Indian hope Pankaj Advani demonstrated it best while overcoming an error-prone Craig McGillvray of Scotland 5-3 en route to the quarter-finals.

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“I am exhausted after playing for the fourth day in a row and I guess, it is the same with others too,” said a visibly relieved Advani who is hoping to win his second World snooker title after eight years in front of an adoring home crowd.

The 26-year old Advani posted two brilliant breaks of 104 in the third frame and 93 in the sixth while McGillvray, in a catch-up mode all the time, caved in under pressure and had his best moments while making breaks of 70 and 54.

In Friday’s quarter-finals to be played over 11 frames, Advani meets Belgium’s Peter Bullen who accounted for Iran’s Ehsan Heydari Nezhad 5-1.

Even as Advani plotted his way to victory, Australia’s Steve Mifsud, the 2002 champion, was among the biggest casualties as he crashed to a 0-5 defeat to Belgian Kevin van Hove-Speltinckx.

Mifsud, who had earlier tamed India’s Yasin Merchant who was playing his last competitive match ahead of retirement 5-4 in a very punishing encounter, had little left in the tank against the Belgian who capitalized fully on the rather uncharacteristic mistakes by his visibly tired opponent.

National champion Alok Kumar who barely survived a five-hour marathon against Poland’s Krzysztof Wrobel in the previous round, was back at the table less than 30 minutes later, and squandered a 4-2 lead to lose to compatriot Kamal Chawla. The match lasted nearly four hours at the end of which Alok could barely stand.

Earlier in the day, it was Merchant who provided some drama as he all but defeated Mifsud while coming back from 1-3 and 2-4 deficits to force the decider.

The 45-year old Merchant marked his fightback with a sublime break of 127 clearance besides two runs of 67 before Mifsud closed the match with an authoritative 68 in the ninth.

“I thought I had him and he was under pressure. However, my concentration and focus kept wavering. During the 127 break, I was in the zone, but in the decider, he came up with a brilliant 68 and that was it,” said Merchant.

The results:

Pre-quarter-finals (Best-of-9 frames): Hossein Vafaei Ayouri (Iran) bt Vinnie Calabrese (Australia) 5-0; Brendan O’Donoghue (Ireland) bt Omar Alkojah (Syria) 5-1; Kevin Van Hove -Speltinckx (Belgium) bt Steve Mifsud (Australia) 5-0; Pankaj Advani (India) bt Craig MacGillivray (Scotland) 5-3; Peter Bullen (Belgium) bt Ehsan Heydari Nezhad (Iran) 5-1; Thepchaiya Un-Nooh (Thailand) bt Martin O’Donnell (England) 5-2; Lee Walker (Wales) bt Imran Shahzad (Pakistan) 5-2; Kamal Chawla (India) bt Alok Kumar (India) 5-4.

Round of 32 (Best-of-9): Ayouri bt Mark Boyle (SCO) 5-3; Calabrese bt Karam Fateima (SYR) 5-0; O’Donoghue bt Fung Kwok Wai (HKG) 5-2; Alkojah bt Mohamed Shehab (UAE) 5-3; Chawla bt Anuj Uppal (IND) 5-3; Alok Kumar bt Krzysztof Wrobel (POL) 5-3; Van Hove-Speltinckx bt Rhydian Richards (IRL) 5-3; Mifsud bt Yasin Merchant (IND) 5-4; Advani bt Mark Tuite (IRL) 5-0; MacGillivray bt Sergiy Isayenko (UKR) 5-1; Bullen bt Wael Talaat (EGY) 5-1; Nezhad bt Joe Minici (AUS) 5-4; Un-Nooh bt Mohamed Khairy (EGY) 5-1; O’Donnell bt Saleh Mohammad Mohammadi (AFG) 5-4; Shahzad bt Muhammad Asif (PAK) 5-2; Walker bt Au Chi Wai (HK) 5-4.

Round of 48 (Best-of-7): Boyle bt Noppon Saengkham (THA) 4-3; Calabrese bt Rodney Goggins (IRL) 4-0; O’Donoghue bt Manan Chandra (IND) 4-1; Alkojah bt Marcin Nitschke (POL) 4-1; Uppal bt Rais Khan Sen Zahi (AFG) 4-1; Alok Kumar bt Brijesh Damani (IND) 4-3; Van Hove-Speltinckx bt Andreas Ploner (AUT) 4-1; Merchant bt Yaser Elsherbiny (EGY) 4-0; Tuite bt Antti Mannila (FIN) 4-0; Isayenko bt Hitesh Naran (RSA) 4-1; Bullen bt Costas Konnaris (CYP) 4-2; Minici bt IH Manudev (IND) 4-3; Khairy bt Susantha Boteju (SRI) 4-1; Mohammadi bt Mohamed Isa Ebrahim Shaikh (BRN) 4-1; Shahzad bt Joris Maas (NED) 4-1; Wai bt Mohammed Al Joaker (UAE) 4-3.