Neil Robertson sounds warning to his Indian Open snooker opponents
New Delhi: World No.1 Neil Robertson has sounded a warning to his opponents ahead of next week`s World Snooker Indian Open, saying those looking to challenge him for the top honours will have to be at their absolute best.
"I have had a good start to this season. I won the Wuxi Classic ranking event and got to the final of the Australian Open, though I was disappointed to lose to Marco Fu. I am giving it 100 per cent in every tournament and I have been consistent, which means that someone has to play really well to beat me," Robertson told PTI in an e-mail interview.
"I`m still improving as a player. Break-building was the weakest part of my game in the past, but now it`s one of the best. This week, I made four centuries in the International Championship qualifiers and another four in my first match at the Ruhr Open," he said.
A strong field of 64 professionals, headed by Australia`s Robertson, besides top two Indians -- Pankaj Advani and Aditya Mehta -- promises some great action in the Indian Open to be held here from Oct 14 to 18.
Robertson said he was impressed with the way Advani and Mehta, the only two Indians on the professional circuit, have adapted to the conditions in the UK and improved their respective games.
"I have been very impressed by Aditya and Pankaj and the way they have adapted to living in the UK. They spent time in Sheffield practising against other top professionals and that has helped both of them to improve. They have had some great results and I`m sure they will both be very keen to do well in front of their own fans," he said.
The Bangalore-based Advani begins his campaign with a match against World No.29 Marcus Campell in the first round, while Mumbai`s Mehta, gold medallist at the Columbia World Games, will take on 2002 World champion Peter Ebdon in his opening round.
The 31-year-old left-handed cueist, who won the 2010 World Championship, believes snooker has the potential to grow in India at the same extent as it has in China in recent years.
"I know billiards is really popular in India and only a few sports like cricket are bigger there. It`s long overdue to have the first snooker event there. I`m sure the atmosphere will be fantastic and the crowd will be knowledgeable.
"Everyone is hoping that snooker can be successful there in the same way that it is in China," Robertson said.
Talking about the Indian Open, Robertson, the only Australian to have won a ranking event, said the best-of-seven-frames format will produce "fast and dramatic matches".
"I like the format with the best of seven frames because it will produce fast and dramatic matches. You can`t think too much about the fact that the matches are short, all you can do is try to get off to a good start," he said.
Robertson said he was enjoying his stint at the top of the world rankings and wanted to remain there as long as he could.
"I am number one in the world, which is a great achievement. I don`t know why I`m still getting better but may be it`s because I didn`t start playing snooker until I was 15 or 16."
Robertson, who is famously known as "The Thunder from Down Under", seemed excited about his first visit to India.
"I have never been to India before so I`m excited to go to a new country," he said.