Aditya Mehta would lead the host nation’s challenge in the second Indian Open Snooker Championship, starting tomorrow, as four top-10 players in the world, including defending champion Ding Junhui of China, will vie for top honours.
Mumbai-born Mehta, ranked 50th in the professional circuit, is seeded a lowly 40th in the pound sterling 300,000 tournament and is the lone Indian who has already booked a spot in the 64-player main draw.
29-year-old Mehta, runner-up in the inaugural edition of the tournament held in October, 2013 in Delhi, blanked Hammad Miah of England 4-0 in Barnsley Metrodome in the UK to secure his place in the main draw.
Mehta is up against higher-ranked English pro Mark King the world no. 33 in his first round on March 11.
Coming into this tournament, the Indian ace had reached the third round of the Welsh Open last month before being knocked out early in two other tournaments soon afterwards.
Six other Indian wild card recipients including national champion and former snooker pro tour card holder Pankaj Advani will be vying to enter the main draw through a one-round qualifying shoot-off tomorrow.
Advani, the Bengaluru cue ace, has had a two-year stint on the pro circuit before returning home, is the brightest Indian hope in the tournament after Mehta, having lost to the latter in the semi finals of the Delhi edition.
Advani has won both the International Billiards and Snooker Federation’s world billiards and snooker titles in the past and has good experience of playing in such top-level competitions on super-fast, double-shaven table cloth.
“I will definitely try to use my two years’ experience on the pro circuit which should hold me in good stead. Winning the first match will give us confidence of a good run in the tournament,” said Advani.
“The tables for the Indian Open championship are very fast. You have to use light cue touch. All of us Indian wild cards have to get adjusted to these tables fast before our first qualifying game,” he remarked.