Merchant to meet Mehta for place in final of Snooker meet

Mumbai: National snooker champion Aditya Mehta and two-time former Asian champion Yasin Merchant fashioned impressive wins to set up an interesting semifinal clash in the Bombay Gymkhana Strokes Snooker Invitational Open tournament on Monday.

Merchant kicked off a rewarding day for the favourites with a clinical 4-2 win over India`s number seven Manan Chandra of Bharat Petroleum, while Mehta halted India junior No 1 Laxman Rawat of Delhi with a 4-1 win, in the best-of-seven frames quarterfinals here.

Merchant, who recently announced his retirement from international snooker, showed no signs of his passion diminishing as he seized upon every opportunity that came his way and rolled on.

Chandra got off to a dream start with a break of 61 that helped him snatch the opening frame. But Merchant, who began on an ominous note with a foul, struck back to surge to a 3-1 lead that included a break of 51 in the fourth frame.

Chandra fought back and narrowed the lead to 2-3 with another break of 50 but his challenge ended there as Merchant took away the sixth frame in a trice.

"We were both in good nick. I played well and had no reason to be disappointed. It`s just that Yasin punished me for my mistakes and was the deserving winner," said Chandra.

Mehta, fresh from his stint in the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield where he reached the second round, cruised through his tie against the talented Rawat in an one-sided quarterfinal.

Down 1-3, Rawat made a gallant bid to keep his hopes alive in the fifth frame. He played the green in a hurry and to his dismay missed a simple shot that struck the jaw. Mehta seized the opportunity for a clearance to snatch the frame and match on the black at 54-53.