Still want to evolve as a player, says Pankaj Advani

BANGALORE (TIP): Ever since Pankaj Advani broke onto the scene as a precocious talent in 2003, he has made winning a habit. Having taken over as the torchbearer of cue sports from Geet Sethi, the 29-yearold, who won his first World title in 2003, added an unprecedented 12th World title in Leeds, England, on Wednesday night. The Bangalorean, who gave up his professional snooker card to strike a balance between billiards and snooker, spoke to TOI soon after his conquest. Excerpts:

How does it feel to win a World title again?

It’s been great, but I don’t have enough words to describe the feeling. A double title, it’s incredible.

You are the first cueist to achieve a historic third double.

It’s great because it’s such different formats (time and points). The approach required is different to each other. You are playing over a period of eleven days and you’ve got to keep at it every single day, every single match you have got to put in your 100 per cent. I have worked on my physical and mental strength and it has definitely paid off.

You missed playing billiards for two years. Are you making up for lost time?

(laughs) I want to improve as a player. I want to evolve as a sportsperson and a human being and go a level higher. I know that if I improve as a player the results will automatically follow. You don’t end up on the winning side every time, but this year has been a great year for me. I’ve been capitalizing on the momentum that I have.

You have been on a roll since your first triumph this year at the 6-Red snooker Worlds in Egypt.

I have just been in the mood this year. I’ve been consumed by the game, gone deeper into my profession. I want to achieve excellence as an athlete. That is my priority. And in the process of excellence, I have been winning quite often these days.

You had a close call in the semis against David Causier, what happened?

It took me over two hours to recover from that match. It was like life being taken out of you. I thought I had lost the match at one stage towards the end with just a minute and a half left. I was just let off the hook really and I felt that the one up there really wanted me to win. I really felt it was a kiss of death, bit I came back from the dead to win that match and then the title.

You began the World bash on a losing note to Peter Gilchrist in your first big competitive billiards match after two years, what was going through your mind then?

To be honest, I was speaking to my brother Shree about it and he was helping me to deal with pressure and so on. It didn’t affect me much.

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