Coming back from an injury lay-off and with a new coach, India’s top cueist Aditya Mehta is hoping that home support would inspire him to his maiden win over higher-ranked English rival Mark King in the first round of the Indian Open world ranking snooker tournament on wednesday.
“I don’t think I have beaten him before. It will have to be a good performance from me. He’s a higher ranked player but I will have the crowd support to count on to get a few extra points here and there,” said the 29-year-old ahead of his opening game in the tournament carrying pound sterling 300,000 in prize money.
Mehta, who has recovered from a neck and back injury that put him off for four months from June, has a poor 0-4 record in professional snooker against the world no. 33.
The Indian, ranked 50th, has a new coach in Mukesh Parmar of Leicester. He had lost to King 4-5 in the first round of China Open last year and the win paved the way for his rival to reach the quarters.
“If I can get through the first match then it’s a game on. In this level of snooker every match is difficult, it’s all about confidence. I need to get that first win in the bag and then anything is possible. Last year I had an equally difficult first match against Peter Ebdon. I got through that and we all know what happened.
“Last year I thought it will be difficult. I fed off the crowd. Whether it’s Delhi or Mumbai, It’s all India. I will try and put snooker above all else in my home town,” said the Mumbai-based Mehta India’s lone card holder on the world pro snooker circuit.
“Personally I want to take it one match or even one frame at a time. God willing I will get through the first one,” remarked Mehta who finished runner-up to China’s current world no. 4 and tournament top seed Ding Junhui in the first edition in Delhi in October, 2013.
After his injury, change of base from Sheffield to London and hiring of a new coach, Mehta reached the third round of the Welsh Open in February, and feels that was a good show.
“That’s one of the good starting points ever since we (he and Parmar) started working together. It was one of the first three tournaments. I beat the world no. 5, Barry Hawkins (of England). It was a big win for me in a big tournament and gives a good bit of confidence going into this tournament.
“But I still have a long way to go, especially with the new coach. I am not expecting any miracles,” he added.
About his winless record in four meetings with the 40-year-old King, Mehta said the gap was closing between the two and tomorrow could be that day.