Pankaj Advani makes the cue his 'magic wand' in 2014
In the history of cue sports, he is already nothing short of a living legend and Pankaj Advani added some more sheen to his golden career by taking his world title count from 8 to 12 in a landmark year for himself and the sport.
New Delhi: In the history of cue sports, he is already nothing short of a living legend and Pankaj Advani added some more sheen to his golden career by taking his world title count from 8 to 12 in a landmark year for himself and the sport.
The past 12 months clearly belonged to India's poster boy of cue sports after Advani took one title after another post his two-year snooker stint in the United Kingdom (UK).
Apart from Advani's remarkable journey of four world titles, the year will also be remembered for another champion in the making, China's teenage sensation Yan Bingtao.
The 14-year-old cueist not only stunned Advani in the IBSF World Snooker Championships quarterfinals in Bangalore last month but also went on to annex the title and become the youngest snooker champion.
The youngster held his nerve in a close final to edge out seasoned Pakistan cueist Mohammad Sajjad to earn a lot of praise from Advani, who had pocketed his first world title at the age of 18 in China.
"At that age, he is completely seasoned and mature enough as an individual and as a player," Advani told PTI.
Advani though was satisfied with his annual showing and said that it will be difficult to repeat this year's success in the future.
"I have enjoyed my season and enjoyed some really good results. I don't know if I will ever be able to repeat a year like this. It's just been a phenomenal year for me. I have won so much and even if I lost the last one, you can't win them all," the Arjuna Awardee said.
The 29-year-old magician not only hopped from one venue to another (in fact one country after another) in a hugely successful year but also switched formats with great elan to showcase his ease in billiards, snooker and the long and short versions of the two games.
September saw a lull in the cue sport circuit as the much-awaited Indian Open Snooker -- the nation's only ranking event of the year -- saw a postponement due to the Maharashtra assembly elections during that month.
The focus soon shifted to the the World Billiards Championship in Leeds and India's hopes were once again pinned on the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awardee.
And he delivered without fail. Handing out a Diwali gift to the nation, Advani conquered Singapore's Peter Gilchrist 6-2 in a high quality final of the shorter format of the game, the 150-up billiards championship.
"I am on 11th heaven," said an elated Advani, referring to the number of world titles in his shelf.
Though he had no intentions of stopping there as a week after, Advani saw himself holding the time format trophy on October 29.
The country's most celebrated cueist stamped his authority yet again to complete his career's third grand double, becoming the only player in the history of the sport to do so.
He is tied at two with Mike Russell, who had won the double in 2010 and 2011. Advani's previous grand doubles were in Malta in 2005 and in his hometown in 2008.
The one-sided triumph over England's rising star Robert Hall was presented as a birthday gift to his mother, Kajal, who blessed his super-talented son with a lot of prayers back in India.
So when the star cueist missed the final flurry in the IBSF World Snooker Championship in November he had no regrets as more titles awaiting his cue, which he has turned into a 'magic wand', in the coming year.