New Delhi: When ace cueist Pankaj Advani decided to take part in the World Billiards Championship, he had quietly made a promise to himself that nothing short of silverware would satisfy him and he kept his date with destiny.
The only active player to compete at the highest level in both Billiards and Snooker, Advani had made a tough choice of picking the World Billiards in Leeds over International Snooker Championships in China due to a clash in the dates of the two tournaments.
Does he feel vindicated and the 27-year-old Bangalorean`s reply was as smooth as his approach towards the green baize.
"I feel relieved and proud of my decision. Whenever I`ve had to make a choice (2006 Asian Games is another example), I`ve come through. I guess the pressure of missing out on something makes me want to outdo myself in what I choose even more," Advani told PTI in an interview from Leeds.
"It (choosing between the two tournaments) definitely was a tough decision to make but your heart seldom lets you down. I had a great feeling about the World Billiards this time and simply followed the calling," he added.
Advani proved his class when he notched up his seventh World Billiards Championship title after comprehensively beating defending champion and seasoned Englishman Mike Russell in the Time Format final in Leeds late last night.
The celebrated cueist stamped his dominance with a 1895-1216 win over the local favourite.
Advani has thus become the youngest Indian ever to win eight World titles in any sport after his recent triumph.
Advani, the only player in the world to win a Professional World Title in Billiards while participating in the Professional Snooker Circuit in the same year, rated this win in his career as a "special one".
"It is definitely up there with the others. I love this one for the fact that it happened on my mom`s birthday and presents itself as one of the gifts for her. Plus the fact that I`m competing at the highest level in both snooker and billiards only proves that both sports can be excelled at when you put your mind to it," he said.
Advani was in stupendous form throughout the tournament, remaining unbeaten in the earlier rounds to proceed to the knock outs as the top seed in both Points and Timed formats.
He bounced back from his loss to Peter Gilchrist in the quarterfinals of the Point Format and showed great composure in his quarterfinal encounter against Rupesh Shah in the Timed format which he won with a 940-point margin in 180 minutes to storm into the semi-finals where he beat fellow Indian Dhruv Sitwala.
Talking about his summit clash against long-time rival Russell, he said, "It was the perfect final. Mike and I have a healthy, long-standing rivalry. There is tremendous respect for each other`s unique game styles. He has stopped me in my tracks the last few times. This time it wasn`t the case.
"My brother Shree played a critical role in preparing me mentally for the final. He knows my game, Russell`s game and the state I was in. He coached me over the phone and everything he said actually came true. The plan was picture perfect!" he said.
Advani, who repeated his world record feat of 2005 and 2008 by being the only person in the world to hold National, Asian and World Titles in the same year, also congratulated Rupesh Shah for his title triumph in the Point Format.
"I`m so happy for him. He played like a champion throughout. And for us to bring home both the titles when so many countries from around the world participated, only goes to show the talent India has in the sport."
This is the eighth overall world title for Advani and his seventh in billiards.