Being made to play a 10 am match after a long and intense one the previous night, India's highest-ranked snooker professional lived up to his reputation of overcoming adversity, closing out a worthy opponent 4-3 in the decider of the best-of-seven pre-quarterfinal.
Battling and getting the better of World No.11 Mark Allen's challenge till 11pm yesterday, Advani went on to say, "As a professional, if you are asked to wake up and play at four in the morning, you have to do it!".
While India's other cueist Aditya Mehta got almost a day to recover, Advani, an eight-time world champion, had to be back on the table in less than 12 hours against one of the toughest competitors in the fray, the World No. 8 Essex cueist.
This win makes Advani the only Indian to reach the quarterfinal of a ranking event again. He brought India on to the global map of snooker by storming into the quarterfinals of the Welsh Open earlier this year. Advani has repeated the feat today in the Indian Open, making him the Indian to watch out for.
Advani started well with a break of 53 to capture the first frame convincingly. Bingham, the dangerous customer that he is, responded with a fluent 110 break levelling the match 1-1.
The Indian pulled back the next two frames with 67 and 53 breaks, being only one frame away from rewriting snooker history. But that wasn't meant to happen in a hurry. Bingham rose to the occasion of impending defeat to enforce the decider with big breaks of 72 and 119. In the decider, with momentum in Bingham's favour, Advani was not the favourite.
The Indian's opponent broke down after a 30 break which seemed to be the final blow. Instead, Advani sprung out of his seat to capitalise on the mistake, knowing well that this was possibly his only chance to seize a win.
The world champion enthralled his fans with a courageous and well-crafted 86 to stamp his authority and be the first and only Indian to enter the quarterfinals of a ranking event not once but twice. It is now left to be seen if Mehta can match the mighty performance of his Indian counterpart as he will be tested by the formidable Mark Williams in the other pre-quarter.
Mehta has never made it to the quarters of a ranking event. The winner of the encounter will face Advani in the quarterfinal round this evening. Result: Pankaj Advani (70) defeated Stuart Bingham (8) 4-3: 99(53)-26, 1-117(117), 80(67)-15, 69(53)-16, 11-72(72), 8-119(119), 86(86)-30.
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