New Delhi: Pankaj Advani today set off on a long English journey to tame the `big boys` of world snooker and claim the only major trophy missing from his cabinet - The UK Championship at Crucible - a tournament which he described as the ‘battle for survival’.
The `smiling assassin`, as he is famously known as, would be seen again reigning supreme on the green baize after his recent exploits on the Pro Circuit, when he will play in the UK Championship qualifiers, scheduled from April 3 to 14, to seek an entry into the main draw of the highly-competitive tournament from April 20-May 6 in Sheffield.
"I am ready for the big battle. I am very excited playing my first World Professional Snooker Championship. I am leaving ten days earlier so as to get acclimatised to the conditions. The championship has a different format to what we experienced in the last nine months. It will be a test of your endurance, test of your ability and battle for survival," Advani was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
"I`ll give my best shot there. I am feeling both nervous and confident. I am nervous because it`s the first time I am playing in the World Championship and confident as well because I have come up with good results in past championships on the pro circuit. It would be great to play some of the legends of the game," he added.
Advani has every World title to his name, except the World Professional Snooker Championship. He has proclaimed himself as the undisputed king of the Indian green baize in no uncertain terms with IBSF World Snooker title, World Professional Billiards title and six IBSF World Billiards titles.
The 28-year-old Bangalorean has been working hard to make India a force to reckon with on the Pro Circuit where the competition is much tougher than what he has so far experienced in billiards.
"No Indian has so far made it to the Crucibles, so that`s a big motivation for me. It feels great to be there with full of ups and downs. I am enjoying my journey."
Talking about the format of the World Championship, Advani said there would be four qualifying matches before the main round and the games would be of best of 19 frames.
"It`s a very long format and one needs to be fit enough to play longer hours in a day. The matches would be best of 19 frames and one needs to finish it in two sessions. One session will last nine frames and the other session 10 frames.
"You play four to five frames, then get a 10-minute break, and again play 4-5 frames. So, it`s bound to get tiring but I have prepared myself well for the qualifiers. There are four matches to be won to reach the main stage i.e. The Crucibles," he explained.
The only active player to compete at the highest level in both billiards and snooker concurrently in the same season, Advani had created history in only his first season on the Pro circuit when he became the first Indian cueist ever to reach the quarterfinals of the Welsh Open Pro Snooker Series last month in Wales.
Not only this, he had made it to the semi-finals of European Tour-1 Paul Hunter Classic in Germany, another first for an Indian, and also qualified for the richest pro-snooker tournament in the world, USD 9,50,000 `International Championship` (Venue Stages) in October last year in Chengdu, China.
Earlier this season, he defeated some of the big names in the Pro circuit like Shaun Murphy, Steve Davis, Jimmy White, Nigel Bond, Alan McManus, Michael Holt, Mark King, Ryan Day and John Higgins to stamp his authority.
I`ve always said the person who wins the world championship this year is the person who does the best job on the circuit, but that does not seem the way it is at the moment.