New Delhi: Ace Indian cueist Pankal Advani is on a high after a thumping 1,895-1,216 victory over defending champion Mike Russell in the World Billiards Championship final (time format) in Leeds on Sunday for an eighth world title (seventh in billiards). The 27-year-old made his professional snooker debut in 2012 with wins over Steve Davis and former World No. 1 John Higgins, and having defeated compatriot Dhruv Sitwala in the semi-finals in Leeds, sped into the lead with a century break of 147 and a double-century break of 29 within the opening hour of his five-hour encounter.
Success is not new for Advani. In 2006 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 the World Professional Billiards title in 2009, thereby becoming just the second Indian after Geet Sethi who achieved the feat in 1992.
Advani was just ten when he first took to snooker with his elder brother Shree. Such was his obvious prowess that the managing committee off the Karntaka Snooker and Billiards Association awarded him a membership for free. The snooker enthusiast rushed at the opportunity and began honing his skills at a young age.
At the age of 12, Advani won his first title – the Sampath Memorial where he beat his brother. In that year he also smashed several national records and won the state junior championships. This achievement was repeated in 2008. In 2000, aged 15, he won the Indian Junior Billiards Championship. This tile was repeated seven years in a row after that.
Three years later Advani won the Indian Snooker Championship as well as the Senior National Billiards Championship. He also won the Senior National Snooker Championship in 2005. At the highest level Advani first tasted success at the World Snooker Championship in 2003 in China at the age of 18.
Advani also happens to be the only active cueist to compete at the top level in both billiards and snooker.