MUMBAI: It wasn’t a day that inspired confidence, but Aditya Mehta, after his 2-4 defeat to England’s World No 8 Ricky Walden, is hoping to make his season come good by qualifying for the Snooker World Championships.
Mehta struggled with his shot-making and had to rely on his strong defensive play and tactics to take the game into the sixth frame, but eventually went down 0-70, 27-78, 13-77, 73-18, 76-0 as the last-32 match stretched to midnight. His defeat ended the Indian challenge at the Indian Open snooker tournament underway in Mumbai.
“He is ranked eight in the world and I am ranked 50. I think the gap clearly showed,” a disappointed Mehta said after the match. “I got off to a bad start. And when you make so many mistakes and don’t take your chances against an opponent of that caliber, it’s always going to be difficult.”
“The one thing I probably did learn from this match is that tactically I can hang in with the best,” he said. The perfect example was the long drawn out fourth frame where Mehta’s safety play was topnotch and he made his more experienced opponent err on the red to open up the game.
Mehta had made it to the finals of the first edition of the Indian Open, held in New Delhi in 2013. And rather than that being a launchpad to greater success, he said he had “lost his away a bit.”
“I haven’t had the best of seasons,” said Mehta who has made some changes to his game. He has joined forces Mukesh Kumar, the former coach of world No 1 Mark Selby, since February and in Mumbai he said that he feels like a completely different player.
“The last three months have been good. I would’ve definitely liked to do better here given that it my home-town event. Now, I am looking forward to the World Championships qualifying; that’s it. That will be the end of my season.”
Mehta will play the qualifying event, which will be held at the International Sports Centre in Sheffield from April 8-15.
Sixteen players will qualify for the World Snooker Championship at the biggest theatre of dreams of pro snooker, the Crucible, also in Sheffield.
If he makes the cut, Mehta will become the first Indian to play in the prestigious championship.