Despite six pull-outs right before the start of the tournament, Indian Open, the country’s first ever snooker ranking tournament, is set to be contested by a tough field of participants.
England’s Allister Carter, World No. 15, withdrew on Saturday, and joined five other players who had withdrawn prior to the scheduled start on Monday. The reasons were not immediately made clear. However, World No. 1 Australian Neil Robertson and No. 2 Mark Selby will provide the glitz. The 300,000 pound tournament features five world champions, including Robertson (2010), John Higgins (1998, 2007, 2009, 2011), Mark Williams (2000, 2003), Ken Doherty (1997) and Peter Ebdon (2002).
Pankaj Advani and Aditya Mehta will be leading India’s challenge, but both players will be up against higher ranked opponents in the first round on Monday. Advani, ranked 70 in the world, will take on Scot Marcus Campbell (ranked 27) while Mehta (ranked 71) will play Ebdon. The duo, though, have had a few good results behind them in the pro-circuit this year.
The 28-year-old Advani has beaten the likes of John Higgins (World No. 6) and Ryan Day (26) during his quarterfinal run at the Hunter Classic in Germany while Mehta, 27, has wins over multiple World Championship finalist Jimmy “Whirlwind” White and Jamie “Shotgun” Cope. Mehta won gold at the World Games and also beat World No.8 Ricky Walden while qualifying for the International Championship.
India’s representation in the tournament is, however, set to go up, with Dharminder Lilly benefitting from Liam Highfield’s walk-over in wild card round. Lilly though will run into Selby on Monday. Five other Indians — Kamal Chawla, Manan Chandra, Shivam Arora, Sandeep Gulati and Faisal Khan — will also play the wildcard round early on Monday to try and make the main draw.
Indian in actions: Pankaj Advani vs Marcus Campbell , Aditya Mehta vs Peter Ebdon, Dharminder Lilly vs Mark Selby