Mumbai: India’s Dharmendra Lilly had his chances, but let them slip out of his hands and also the opportunity to qualify for the main draw of the 300,000 pounds prize money 2nd Indian Open Snooker World Ranking Tournament, organised by the Billiards & Snooker Federation of India (BSFI) and being played at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Kalina. The Punjab cueist squandered a good 3-1 lead before going down to China’s 74th ranked Lyu Haotian 3-4 in a long draw wild card qualifying match on Tuesday evening.
The 40–year-old Punjabi showed promise and kept his hopes alive of progressing to the main tournament when he raced to a 2-0 lead and then extend it to 3-1 before the 17-year-old Chinese with some steady efforts, a 79 break in the third, 49 in the fifth and 56 in the sixth clawed his way back to draw level at 3-all and take the match to the deciding seventh frame.
In the decider, Lily once again was sitting pretty when he started with a run of 33. But after sinking his fifth red he missed a regulation black pot and the Chinese replied with a 33 break of his own. Haotian also missed the black in the same top pocket. After that both adopted to safety play before the Chinese marginally went ahead at and 58-49. With only the last two colours remaining, Haotian who only required to pot one of the two balls missed a difficult pink in the top pocket which provided Lily with the perfect situation to win the frame.
However, for the second time Lily made a hash, missing a straight pink as he tried to get into position for the black, which was against the top cushion and let his opponent off the hook. Haotian this time made certain that he would not let go of the chance and coolly rolled the pink to complete a deserving win.
Lily later admitted that the black miss in the decider proved to be his downfall. “I was doing well but the black miss was the turning point otherwise I could have gone on to make a break of 60 plus which would have sealed the frame for me,” said Lily, who appreciated the performance of his young rival. “He (Haotian) played very well and whenever he got the chance he made some good breaks which helped him to win.”
Earlier, three other Indians Neeraj Kumar, Brijesh Damani and Sumit Talwar were unable to shake off the opening day’s nerves and lost out on the opportunity to make it to the main draw.
The 35-year-old Kumar was unable to offer any sort of resistance to Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, ranked 61st in the world and went down without a whimper, 4-0 in the best-of-7 frames wild card pre-tournament qualifying match on Tuesday morning. The 29-year-old Thai cueist had breaks of 64 in the second and followed it up with an unfinished century effort of 101 in the third before signing off with a run of 69 in the fourth to wrap the issue at 92-9, 101-15, 101-23, 77-8 in a little under 45 minutes. The Thai player now runs in to top seed and defending champion Ding Junhui, ranked 4th in the world in the first round of the main draw.
Later in the day, the 32-year-old Damani showed promise at the start against England’s Sam Baird by comfortably grabbing the first frame. But, thereafter his game went to pieces and the 26-year-old Baird cashed in on the chances to win the next four on the trot to close out the match at 4-1 (4-71, 57-26, 67-27, 129-1, 68-31). Baird, who had two decent breaks of 69 and 50 in the fourth frames, has now qualified for the main tournament and will take on 35th ranked Rod Lawler of England in the first round.
The 32-year-old Talwar, like his countryman Kumar also failed to put up a fight and was comprehensively beaten 4-0 by 25-year-old Adam Duffy of England.
In the most exciting and absorbing match of the day, 26th ranked Ben Woollaston of England held his nerves in the crucial deciding frame to nose out China’s 51st ranked Yu Delu by a tight 4-3 margin. After the two shared the opening six frames the Chinese seized the initiative in the seventh with a well constructed break of 66 to be placed in a comfortable position. Woollaston won at 54-66, 24-90(59), 80-13, 65(41)-54, 0-89(72), 101(100)-16, 74-67(66).
Meanwhile, two upsets were witnessed in the first round of the tournament proper. First, 45th ranked Jamie Jones of Wales, came up with an impressive showing to turn the tables on 20th ranked Liang Wenbo posting a come from behind 4-2 victory.
Jones lost a tight first frame and was outplayed in the second as the Chinese compiled a neat run of 85 to take a 2-0 lead. The Welshman showed great resilience and first with small but useful breaks and later a neat run of 73 in the sixth helped him win the subsequent four frames to clinch a 50-54, 1-85, 74-47, 65-54, 74-31 and 81-0 triumph and a passage to a second round meeting with 43rd ranked Englishman Gerard Greenie who also got past a higher ranked opponent in 32nd ranked Welshman Mathew Stevens. In a match of fluctuating fortunes Greenie came through at 4-2 (8-88, 71-42, 90(69)-0, 62-23, 37-61, 70(48)-14).
Wild card qualifier: Thepchaiya Un-Nooh (Thailand) bt Neeraj Kumar (India) 4-0 (92-9, 101(64)-15, 101(101)-23, 77-8).
Sam Baird (England) bt Brijesh Damani (India) 4-1 (4-71, 57-26, 67-27, 129-1, 68-31).
Adam Duffy (England) bt Sumit Talwar (India) 4-0 (51-15, 63-53, 71-32, 71-45).
Lyu Haotian (China) bt Dharmendra Lily (India) 4-3 (23-75, 21-66, 81(79)-23, 22-47, 74(49)-11, 70(56)-23, 64-49).
Main draw (round-I): Jamie Jones (Wales) bt Liang Wenbo (China) 4-2 (50(49)-54(41), 1-85(85), 74-47, 65-54, 74-31, 81-0).
Gerad Greenie (England) bt Mathew Stevens (Wales) 4-2 (8-88, 71-42, 90(69)-0, 62-23, 37-61, 70(48)-14).
Ben Woollaston (England) bt Yu Delu (China) 4-3 (54-66, 24-90(59), 80-13, 65(41)-54, 0-89(72), 101(100)-16, 74-67(66).