ON A HISTORIC day for snooker and India, it was only fitting one of the nation’s promising stars took the limelight.
The first ever Indian Open got underway today (Monday) and home favourite Aditya Mehta delighted the crowd after pulling off an impressive 4-3 win against former world champion Peter Ebdon to make the second round.
Cheered on by his fans at the Meridien Hotel in New Dehli, Mehta raced into a 3-1 lead before the 2002 world champion fought back to force the match into a decider.
But Mehta held his nerve when it mattered and made a terrific match-winning break of 127 to clinch a place in the last 32 stage of the ranking event – the first ever in snooker history to be held in India.
World number Neil Robertson eased through to the next round with a 4-1 win over Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham and Ricky Walden whitewashed Gerard Greene 4-0.
Amazingly, the first day’s play did not end until at nearly 1.30am as Shanghai Masters champion Ding Junhui was forced into a late night battle against Barry Pinches. But the Chinese star came through winning 4-3.
Elsewhere, Michael Holt continued his fine form following his run to the semi-finals of the Shanghai Masters with a 4-1 win over Jamie Cope and Dechawat Poomjaeng, one of the surprising stars of last season’s World Championship, beat Ryan Day 4-2.
Mark Joyce beat Sean O’Sullivan 4-0 and Six Reds world champion Mark Davis secured his place in the second round with a 4-2 win over Elliot Slessor.
There were also first round wins for Zhang Anda, Hammad Miah and Liang Wenbo who defeated Alan McManus, Chen Zhe and David Morris respectively.
The day began with the tournament’s wild card matches which saw no major shocks as the likes of Rod Lawler, Jeff Cundy, Anthony McGill, Robbie Williams and Paul Davison secured their place in the first round proper beating home-based hopefuls.
Day 2 of the Indian Open will see former world champions John Higgins and Mark Williams take to the baize in India for the first time as well as other top names such as Stephen Maguire, Marco Fu and Mark Allen.
India’s Pankaj Advani will hope to follow countryman Mehta’s fortunes by reaching the second round – he takes on Marcus Campbell.