No more playing second fiddle to Advani: Aditya

New Delhi: Having finally moved out of Pankaj Advani`s shadow, India`s current numero uno cueist in snooker, Aditya Mehta says he is happy to have set the benchmark for his more illustrious compatriot.

Mehta recently won his first international title -- the Asian Snooker Championships in Doha -- and his opponent in the title clash was seven-time world champion Advani.

"As far as snooker is concerned, I have moved a level ahead of him (Pankaj) because I am playing professionally as well. I have moved out of his shadow. On my day, I am good enough to beat anyone," Aditya said.

It took the 25-year-old Aditya some doing to match up to Advani.

"After 10 years of competition, to finally move ahead of that, and set the benchmarks myself for him to catch up to me is a great feeling. You know it was not easy as he had moved ahead of us a long time ago. So, it feels good to have caught up with him and move ahead.

"It`s been like that for the last two years now because I have been a national champion for two years in a row, I have been a number one snooker player. Even at the Asian level, I have been ahead of him (Pankaj) and last year also, I was in the finals of Asian snooker championships."

Aditya reiterated that his goals are different from that of Advani.

"Snooker is a completely different ball game. I have got lot many different goals and lot of different things to achieve than what Pankaj has. So there is no comparison between us any more. We have different paths to follow," he said after returning to India.

Aditya is the third Indian to lift the Asian Snooker title after Yasin Merchant (1989, 2001) and Alok Kumar (2004).

Talking about the title triumph, Mehta said it will hold him in good stead at the professional circuit as he would be competing in 25-30 tourneys and travelling for almost 10 months.

"I have made the finals of the Asian Championships twice in the last three years, so that`s something I want to win this time. It`s my first international victory, so obviously this win means a lot to me. It was the most important event for me."

He recently became the first Indian in two decades to score a win at the World Snooker Championship on the pro-circuit in the United Kingdom.

"I have the pro ticket for next two years, so I won`t be able to play any amateur event. This was probably my last amateur event for the next two years at least. It`s nice to get the win under your belt and start my pro stint again on a positive note.

"I hope that this win makes my life a little easier in terms of sponsorship and funding at pro circuit, supporting the stay in UK and travel in Europe," he said.

Aditya said he just wants to concentrate on his performance at the pro-circuit.

"As a professional, you are not allowed to play any amateur event. I won`t be playing the amateur events for the next two years as per the rules. Even after that, I would see how my professional career is shaping up and based on that, I`ll decide about amateur events.”

"But my efforts would be to remain pro, remain on the circuit while maintaining my rankings," he added.