New Delhi: Eight-time world champion Pankaj Advani says he is playing the best snooker of his life on the Pro circuit and now wants to pass on his vast experience to the new generation of Indian cueists who aspire to compete at the highest level.
Advani, who is creating ripples on the Pro circuit with some big wins over former world champions, feels his knowledge of billiards is proving a boon for him in the ongoing BetVictor Welsh Open Pro Snooker Series in Wales, where he has reached the quarterfinals.
"I can't believe it to be very honest. No Indian has reached so far in a ranking event. I am really excited to just get through and enter the next round. I believe I am playing the best snooker of my life," said Advani.
"I would love to help the new generation of players coming from India to come and perform at the professional snooker," he said after his 4-1 win over Scotland's Graeme Dott 4-1 at Newport.
Advani had, on Wednesday, become the first Indian cueist ever to reach the pre-quarters of the Welsh Open when he overcame a spirited challenge from former world champion Shaun Murphy 4-3 in the Round of 32.
The 27-year-old Bangalorean has so far humbled three former world champions -- Peter Ebdon, Murphy and Dott en route his quarterfinal appearance in the Welsh Open and the ace cueist said he is surprising himself with this dream run, and that too in his first appearance on the highly competitive professional world.
"I have beaten three world champions. It's just great to play against these players... it's a huge honour. Snooker is a game which is so open these days and players get the opportunity to rise and shine and upset some of the big names. We have really exciting times ahead in snooker," he said.
Asked whether these results would create a buzz back home, he said, "I think you just need to stand up and take the responsibility... uneasy lies the head that wears a crown! Sometimes you need to take it all, take it in your strides."
The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Awardee said the game of billiards compliments snooker and helps refine cue ball control, which has helped him achieve success against some of the big names like Steve Davis, John Higgins and Murphy.
"Both games compliment each other. If you want to play good billiards, especially at top of the table, you need to pot the red of the spot which in snooker is the black of the spot, it's really the same thing. So you need to have good potting skills. That's where snooker helps in billiards.
"When you look at the other way round, the billiards knowledge that I always have, understanding the safety angle, where the ball goes off the cushion. You saw some of the best snooks in the match between me and Dott. The knowledge of the table increases when you play billiards and that's really helping me at this stage in snooker," he said.
Advani seemed satisfied with his performance on the Tour. "I have played so much in my life. A lot of finals in the World Billiards event, even the IBSF World snooker in 2003 which I had won. As far as the experience is concerned, I think I have it me playing at the big stage. I just did not know where I would go and to be honest, I was not even thinking about whether I can do it or can't do it. I just know that I have got a certain ability and got to make the most of it and maximise it," he signed off.