Leeds: India’s Dhruv Sitwala pipped five-time winner Geet Sethi by a point to sail into the finals of the World Professional Billiards Championship for the first time in his career, where he will meet veteran and title favourite Qatar’s Mike Russell.
In the semifinal between the green baize maestro Sethi and 2007 IBSF World Billiards runner-up Sitwala, played at the Northern Snooker Centre here, a massive miscalculation in the end moments of the game cost Sethi the match by a solitary point 980-979, when it could easily have been a tie.
Nine-time World Billiards Champion Sethi came to the table with a little over four minutes remaining, following a missed square middle bag loser from Sitwala.
Racing around the table and fighting to get position, Sethi pulled off some pressure shots, only to miss count the number of red’s from the spot right at the death to trail by three points with seconds remaining.
A terrific screw loser from Sitwala’s cue ball into the green side top bag kept him at the table to the sound of applause for the shot and as the clock signalled the completion of stipulated time, Sitwala raised his cue in the air while taking the applause from the fans.
Sitwala, during his 43 visits to the table, constructed two century breaks accounting for 138 and 116 while Sethi also managed to cross the 100-mark barrier on two occasions (107 and 167).
Sitwala had registered a hard fought 723-608 victory over the reigning champion Pankaj Advani in the quarterfinals of the event while Sethi, making his 19th appearance at the event, scored an emphatic 959-445 win over Singapore’s Peter Gilchrist to sail into the semifinals of the event.
In the other semifinal between nine-time champion Russell and England’s David Causier, the former outplayed the latter by 246 points (1525-1279) to set up date with Sitwala in the summit clash.
The first session was completely dominated by Russell, who was on an unfinished break of 271 and enjoying a margin of 273 points when clock stopped. The final score at the end of first session was Russell (551 + 271 unfinished) and Causier (549).
In the second session, Russell and Causier were locked in a fierce battle with both looking to manufacture century breaks.
Russell had the first laugh with a break of 101 but Causier soon followed him with a break of 76 and 101. He then went on to score 78 and 199 much to the dislike of title favourite Russell.
In the end, Englishman’s efforts fell short as Russell scored a superb break of 371 to cement his place in the finals of the five-day-long event.
In the quarterfinals, Russell had defeated India’s Rupesh Shah 995-496 with the help of big century break of 589 while Causier had emerged victorious against another Indian Saurav Kothari 1356-499, scoring six century breaks, maximum in the tournament so far, in 41 visits to the table.