India as snooker destination gets thumbs-up

New Delhi: The inaugural edition of the Indian Open has left a lasting impression on the world`s leading cueists and officials as they gave a big thumbs up to the professional snooker`s first major ranking event in the country.

October 14 marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of snooker in the country when the world`s leading 57 professionals descended on the city to make India a newest destination in the Pro circuit.

Be it World No.1 Neil Robertson, the four-time world champion John Higgins or our very own Pankaj Advani and Aditya Mehta, everyone seemed to be in awe of the facilities here at the Le Meridien Hotel and the "excellent" tables.

India is slowly emerging as a force in the snooker arena with country`s top leading cueists -- Advani and Mehta -- reigning supreme on the professional circuit.

The world body, WPBSA, is therefore keen to tap into the market here.

WPBSA has entered into a partnership with the organisers, Billiards and Snooker Federation of India, for hosting the Indian Open for the next three years.

The BSFI has put forth impressive facilities for the inaugural edition of India`s biggest cue sport event and it seems that the organisers efforts have paid off.

Talking about his experience in India so far, Robertson said, "It`s great. I am enjoying my stay here. I wasn`t too sure about the tables before coming here but all my doubts have been put to rest. The tables are performing excellently. Players would be delighted to see the tables. Crowd is also great."

Snooker has returned to India 138 years after the sport was invented in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh.

India`s leading professional cueist and eight-time world champion Advani said, "To play on the TV table with everyone watching, to enjoy the atmosphere of the big stage and draw positive energy from the crowd -- this is what you dream of as a professional.

"Before coming here, a few of the players were worried that the humidity could cause problems for the playing conditions. But the tables are playing so well, just like they do in the UK," he added.

Higgins also spoke highly about the facilities here, saying, "It`s exciting being in India for the first time and I thought the atmosphere was good out there.

"The conditions are perfect. I haven`t done well in the last few tournaments so I`m trying to win a few matches this week and build some confidence."

World No.2 Mark Selby said he was enjoying his first trip to India.

"I am very excited to be here. It all seems good."

Delhi`s Manan Chandra said, "I am quite excited playing in such a big tournament and that too at home, in front of my family and friends."
Almost all the overseas cueists wish list also includes visiting the Taj Mahal at least once.

"I would like to visit it. I have heard it`s 3-4 hours drive from Delhi. Let`s see how it works out," said Robertson.
Higgins said, "I would love to visit the monument. It`s a great tourist destination."

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