Aditya Mehta made history, becoming the first Indian to make the semi-final of a snooker ranking tournament, when he defeated compatriot Pankaj Advani 4-3 in the quarter-final of the Indian Open.
The highlight of the game were the final minutes of the third and sixth frames, where with just the black and the pink on the table, the players wrestled each other for long passages of play. The third frame lasted a whopping 63 minutes with Advani nicking it eventually. The sixth frame went the way of Advani too, but Mehta showed great composure to not let the set-backs affect him. He responded to each of those phases by winning the next frame. Winning the fourth frame brought him level in the match, winning the seventh helped him make history.
Irrespective of the result of the game, the quarter-final was sure to throw up a first — an Indian in the semifinal of a snooker ranking tournament.
Both Advani and Mehta had to get the better of tough, seasoned campaigners to get to the last-eight stage. Advani survived two century breaks to get the better of Stuart Bingham, ranked 10 in the world, in the round of 16 clash. Mehta had to beat two-time world champion Mark Williams to keep his end of the bargain up.
"It was only the media that noticed that we could meet in the quarter-finals. For us it was only a question of playing one game at a time, considering how tough it has been so far," said Mehta, on the last eight clash against Advani. Meeting Advani in a quarterfinal may not have registered as a possiblity before the tournament began, but Mehta nevertheless labelled it "the most important game of our lives."
Mehta had the more straight forward win, at least as far as the scoreline was concerned, beating Williams 4-2. Except for a tight sixth frame, which lasted 43 minutes and the last stages of which would find an echo in the quarterfinal, Mehta was more or less in control through the contest. Williams' strategy is typical of that of a pro against the rookie. He