Seven-time world billiard champion Advani had skipped the World Billiards Championship in Leeds in 2013 to focus on the major snooker ranking event in Chengdu, China from October 27 to November 3.

"This time I have given World billiards a miss and my action would suggest that my priority has shifted to snooker but that's not the case. Billiards will always remain my first priority, my first love, even though I am concentrating on snooker at the moment," clarified Advani.

"I have always said that billiards is my wife while snooker is my mistress, and right now I am attracted towards my mistress," he added. Advani said he just wanted to give a shot at snooker. "I have made this transition because I felt this is the right time to make a move. I have achieved everything in billiards and felt I need to give a shot to snooker and play in the professional circuit,” he said.

"I wasn't expecting good results in my very first season but I am happy that I have secured good wins in the pro circuit," Advani said while speaking on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the India Open. The first of its kind competition to be held in India, featuring five former world champions, will be played out from October 14 to 18 here in the country's richest and biggest major ranking snooker event, the 300,000 pound Indian Open.

Advani said, "This tournament is special to me. This is a significant event happening in India for the first time, where all the top players of the world have come to play."

Advani is all set to shoulder the Indian hopes in this tournament along with compatriot Aditya Mehta, who is optimistic about the host cueists' chances. "For the last few years BSFI (Billiard and Snooker Federation of India) has worked very hard in bringing the game to India. It has finally come here and it is the greatest day for Indian snooker," Mehta said.

"We have good representation from India with six wild card entries, besides me and Pankaj there. Hopefully, we can get a few wins in this tournament," he said. World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) chairman, Jason Ferguson said it was an honour to bring snooker to India, which was emerging as one of the important countries of the sport.

"It is a great honour for me to bring this sport to India. Snooker has grown massively in the last three years with nine events happening in China and few others in Australia and Germany, and now in India also. We are also introducing a new prized-money based ranking system for this event. It is the most important innovation we have brought into the sport. It will provide more opportunity to young players to rise quickly in the ranking chart," said Jason.

"Our plan is to completely globalize snooker and India is emerging as one of the potential destinations. Growth has been incredible and there is need to introduce snooker in schools. We are very excited about the plans to expand the game in India," he added.

But asked why there isn't much buzz despite such a high-profile tournament happening in Delhi, Ferguson said, "We can always work harder to popularize the sport. We will work in that direction."

As many as six top cueists have withdrawn from the event but Ferguson insisted that those players had genuine reasons for pulling out. "We have strong process about withdrawing. There are genuine reasons for the withdrawal by six players," he said. As per professional snooker regulations, a pullout attracts a penalty of 250 pounds.


Latest News from Sports News Desk